Sometimes you have to wear it.
Translated out of sports jargon, it means accepting responsibility, no matter how unpleasant that might be.
That was the message Coach Cary Cauley had for his baseball team on Tuesday after Hollywood High was eliminated in the second round of the City Section Division II playoffs with a 6-5 loss to Franklin.
Hollywood entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed, the product of a successful 17-5 regular season. In contrast, Franklin was seeded 15th with a 9-9 record and needed to win a play-in game Friday simply to earn the right to face the Sheiks.
The Panthers were supposed to be sacrificial lambs. Instead, they were the ones who looked like a team serious about reaching the finals at Dodger Stadium. They played crisply and took advantage of the Sheiks' miscues.
An exasperated Cauley didn't rank it as the most disappointing loss of his six-year tenure at Hollywood, but he wasn't sure how he'd feel in the morning.
"We should mercy-rule a team like that," he said.
Hollywood lost because it couldn't execute the fundamentals. There were physical errors—four to be exact—but mental gaffes as well, giving Franklin far too many extra chances.
"We had our mistakes that we've had all year," senior utilityman Jose Henriquez said. "In the end it shows, it turns out that errors come back and they bite and they bite you real hard. It's not how you picture it, but you got to wear it."
The trouble started in the third inning. With the game scoreless, starter Isidro Torres began the inning by allowing back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. Knowing a bunt was coming, Cauley alerted his defense to run a play they had worked on for two hours Friday. The bunt came, but the shortstop — Henriquez — didn't cover third, turning a sure force out into a bases-loaded, no out situation.
The next batter grounded a single to left, allowing one run to score, and when the ball wasn't aggressively charged in left field, a second run came around. The next batter hit a sharp grounder to third that George Onate was unable to stop, allowing the third run to score. A groundout to second produced the inning's final run and suddenly Hollywood was down 4-0.
The Sheiks got a run back in the third on an RBI single by Chavez. In the fourth, it was Franklin's turn to gift-wrap runs to the opponent.
With two outs and Torres on second, Enrique Lopez hit a grounder to shortstop Matthew Monroy that should've ended the inning, but instead Monroy's throw sailed over the head of Panthers first baseman Edward Reyes, scoring Torres. Another error, this time by third baseman Joshua Arias, allowed a second run to score, pulling the Sheiks within 4-3.
In the sixth inning, Hollywood made its most egregious mistakes. Chavez, who replaced Torres on the mound to start the fourth, had two outs in the inning and starting pitcher Jose Elito on third base. No. 9 hitter Joel Lemus swung at strike three in the dirt, but since it wasn't caught on the fly, he had the opportunity to advance to first.
Henriquez — who took over at catcher when Chavez moved to pitcher — could've simply tagged Lemus before he left the box, but instead opted to throw to first for the put-out. The throw was low, however, and first baseman Alan Ruiz failed to keep the ball in front of him. Elito raced home from third with a vital insurance run.
"It was a ball in the dirt and as I came up to throw I had a handful of dirt with the ball and when I let it go it just slipped," Henriquez said. "Once I saw it get by Alan, I looked down third base and saw him coming home. I couldn't believe it."
The Panthers tacked on an insurance run in the seventh to make it 6-3, a run that turned out to be huge in retrospect as Hollywood rallied in its final at-bat.
Henriquez started it with one out in the inning, ripping a single to left-center. After a walk by Jose Hernandez, Chavez grounded out to short, advancing the runners to second and third but putting Hollywood one out away from elimination. Franklin opted to intentionally walk cleanup hitter Ruiz for the second time, loading the bases for Onate.
The third baseman made the Panthers pay, ripping a double up the gap in right-center to score two runs and cut the deficit to 6-5. It was a shot that might have cleared the fence for a game-winning grand slam had Hollywood been playing at its home field on campus. Instead, they were at Griffith Park's cavernous Pote Field as a result of a scheduling conflict at the high school.
That left it up to Torres, with the tying run on third and the winning run on second. The senior worked the count full, but was fooled by a curveball and went too far on a check swing, striking out to end the game and the Sheiks' season.
"We can't point fingers because we all messed up and we go down as a team," Chavez said.
Cauley was upset about the loss, but at the same time believed this year's team performed better than expected.
"When you think about the age and experience we had this year, I know going out as the two seed (stinks), but they had a good year," he said. "I thought we could make it to Dodger Stadium based on seeding, but you know, it goes that way I guess."
Translation? Sometimes you have to wear it.