Baseball: San Marino at it again, defeats La Caada, 8-4


The memo went out but apparently the San Marino High School baseball team never received it. In a matter of days, the surging Titans went from a darkhorse team to a major player in the Rio Hondo League, and their 8-4 win over La Caada on Wednesday accentuated that statement. San Marino (13-6, 7-3) extended its winning streak to six games, including key victories over Temple City, Monrovia and now the baffled Spartans (14-6, 6-3). Trevor Dority pitched six innings to record the win and Chris Warren pitched a strong seventh to record the save for the Titans. It wasn’t the best of days for La Caada standout Eric Smith who not only took the loss but was also tossed from the game. He entered the sixth with a 2-1 lead. San Marino’s bats, however, came to life and scored five runs to take a 6-2. The Spartans mounted a comeback in the bottom of the sixth, scoring two runs to pull to within, 6-4, after Bryan Collins and Brendon Shoemake scored on a fielder’s choice and on Jeff Oechsel’s RBI single. Facing a full count — with two outs and Oechsel at first and Ian Donnelly at second — Smith struck out swinging on Warren’s fastball. Smith’s emotions got the better part of him as he threw his bat into the dugout, prompting the home plate umpire to throw him out, too. As a result, Smith will not play in Friday’s showdown against San Marino. “That was the hardest part of that,” La Caada coach Dennis Ballard said, “that he can’t play Friday.” Dylan Bensinger singled to right center to drive home Steven Wright and tie the game, 2-2 in the sixth. Kevin Gute then singled down the first base line to drive home Michael Thompson and give the Titans a 3-2 lead it would not relinquish. Bensinger was caught in a pickle heading home. He was tagged by Smith at home but Smith dropped the ball, prompting Bensinger to touch home plate. The umpire initially ruled him safe, but the call was reversed after a lengthy meeting with the second base umpire. Nevertheless, Chris Warren drew a walk to load the bases and Gute scored after Tarik El-abour was hit by a pitch. Jonathan Merhaut’s single up the middle scored Thomas Lopez and Warren to make it, 6-2. “We went into the sixth with the best closer in the league with Eric Smith and (San Marino) beat him up,” Ballard said. “They did a nice job.” That the Titans’ got their runs against a standout player like Smith was pleasant, to say the least. “We were fortunate to have some success against (Smith), and he’s been dominant this year so it does feel good,” Paciorek said. “It allows us to realize we can go out there against a guy with some good velocity and still put the ball in play and battle.”

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