Bullard High lost its best player in the first inning, then lost the handle on the ball late against Stockdale that cost the Knights a trip to the Central Section Division I baseball final.
Fourth-seeded Stockdale scored three unearned runs on two Knights errors in a four-run sixth to rally past No. 8 Bullard 4-3 in a semifinal Tuesday in Bakersfield.
The Mustangs (25-5) will play either No. 2 Clovis West or No. 3 Clovis on Friday for the championship.
Bullard junior pitcher Matt Meyer pitched 5 1/3 strong innings, striking out four and allowing one earned run.
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"It's frustrating," Knights coach Chad Thornhill said. "Stockdale is an unbelievable hitting team, and for Matt to pitch a game like that just breaks your heart."
The Knights (21-11) suffered a major setback in the first inning when Blake Dunn, hitting over .400 and the team's closer, was ejected after striking out and apparently talking to himself on the way back to the dugout.
"It was nothing out of the ordinary," Thornhill said. "It wasn't anything we could see directed at the umpire. Nothing audible heard from the dugout."
Despite the loss of Dunn, Thornhill said he probably would have stuck with Meyer in the sixth anyway.
"There was a decent likelihood Blake would have come in, but at that point Matt was pitching the game of his life. I was comfortable with him in there."
K.C. Hobson limited Bullard to six hits and struck out 13.
The Knights scored twice in the first on a wild pitch and LaBronze Sanderson's RBI single, then added a run in the fifth on a Stockdale error.
But Stockdale, down to its final six outs, staged its comeback in the sixth.
Kyle Desimone opened with a liner to left that was played incorrectly by Dunn's replacement for an error. Scott Denesha followed with a homer. Hobson singled and, with two outs, Phillip Valos' grounder was turned into a three-base throwing error, with Hobson scoring the tying run.
J.D. Reed then brought home Valos with an infield chopper over the mound for a single.