Santa Maria was down early in its playoff game against Porterville Monache on Wednesday.
The Saints were not, however, out.
Monache built up a 5-0 lead over Santa Maria, but the Saints rallied to score a 9-8 win over the Marauders and advance to the quarterfinals of the CIF Central Section Division 4 playoffs.
The Saints will host Visalia Golden West in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Santa Maria is the No. 8 seed. Monache was seeded ninth.
Golden West, the No. 16 seed, stunned top-seeded Madera South 4-3 on Wednesday, allowing Santa Maria to host the quarterfinal game as the higher seed.
Saints coach Mike Roberson turned to reliever Ricky Figueroa after his team went behind by five runs. Figueroa delivered, stifling the Monache offense and coming through in the game's biggest spot.
Santa Maria was ahead 9-6 heading to the top of the seventh inning. A two-run triple by J.C. Cabanyog cut the Saints' lead to 9-8. Then, with runners at second and third and two outs, Figueroa struck out the final batter, resulting in the senior pumping his fist before celebrating with teammates after the game's final out.
"I'm really pumped right now. I lost my voice," Figueroa said. "It was a great game and I just hope we can win again on Saturday."
Figueroa clearly left everything he had on the mound judging by the energy and effort he put into each pitch.
"I didn't really think about it, I just kept pushing knowing this could be my last game," Figueroa said. "I was going to give it my all. It feels great knowing the team stayed with it. We had great energy and we played our hearts out."
Monache scored twice in the first inning as the Marauders got to starter Luis Guerrero. An RBI single from Jayson Castillo put Monache up 3-0 in the second. A hard-hit ball to the outfield from José Segura gave the Marauders a 4-0 lead and a wild pitch from Figueroa made it 5-0.
Santa Maria had made solid contact off Monache starter Richie Bailey, but couldn't string any offense together, until the bottom of the fourth.
Carlos Hidalgo got the Saints going with an RBI double. Figueroa then smacked a double to the right-center gap to bring two runs home and cut the deficit to 5-3.
Brayan Nuñez then ripped a shot that hit the bottom of the wall in right field to score Figueroa and cut the deficit to 5-4.
With Monache up by a run in the fifth, Castillo then crushed a ball to straight right field for a solo home run to put the Marauders up 6-4.
Monache made a pitching change in the fifth with Gustavo Andrade taking over for Bailey. The Saints cut the Monache lead to 6-5 when Joseph Ybarra scored on a wild pitch.
Sophomore Julian Ortiz came off the bench and made the first of his two big plays, driving in the game-tying run on a sacrifice fly.
The game was tied in the bottom of the sixth when the Saints scored three times. Ybarra plated the first run with a smash to right field to score Joey Saucedo. Ortiz then came up and singled home another run to give Santa Maria an 8-6 lead.
Justin Gutierrez singled home pinch-runner Nate Andrade for the Saints' final run.
Monache plated two runs with no outs in the top of the seventh with Cabanyog's triple, but Figueroa got two strikeouts to end the game and put the Saints in the quarterfinals.
Santa Maria is now 16-9 on the season. Golden West, the quarterfinal opponent, is 11-18.
Monache ends its season with a 14-9 record.
No. 1 Clovis Buchanan 7, No. 16 Righetti 6
Buchanan, one of the nation's top-ranked teams, needed a walk-off home run to eliminate the 16th-seeded Warriors Wednesday in the first round.
With Righetti leading 6-5, Sky Collins hit a two-run walk-off home run to end the Warriors' season.
Buchanan improved to 26-2 on the season. Righetti ends its season with a record of 11-17.
No. 15 San Luis Obispo 7, No. 2 Fresno Memorial 4
The Tigers did get a major upset, stunning the No. 2 seed in Division 1 on the road.
Memorial, like Buchanan, is a state- and nationally-ranked team. The Tigers end the Panthers season with a stunner, with Memorial falling to 24-5.
The Tigers, the fourth-place team in the Mountain League, are now 16-8.
No. 7 Bakersfield Garces 8, No. 10 Nipomo 6
The Rams held off the Titans in a first-round game in Bakersfield on Wednesday.
Nipomo finishes its season with a 10-12 record. The Rams improved to 8-7.
Nipomo 77, Fresno Hoover 75, OT
Joey Garcia hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning shot to send Nipomo to the title game of the CIF Central Section Division 3 playoffs.
The Titans are the No. 3 seed in the bracket. They will travel to Bakersfield to face top-seed Bakersfield Christian, which beat fourth-seeded Sanger on Wednesday.