By Nathan Cambridge, Correspondent
SAN MARINO – Third place in the Rio Hondo League came down to the final game of the regular season for the San Marino and South Pasadena high school baseball teams, and the Tigers came away with a 6-3 victory Thursday.
South Pasadena exploded for five runs on five hits in the fifth inning to secure the third and the final playoff spot from the Rio Hondo League.
“We lost our first game here against San Marino, and I told them I just feel in my heart we’re going to play the last game of the year here and the winner goes to playoffs,” South Pasadena coach Anthony Chevrier said. “And we put ourselves in that position, and then we came out and executed and won the game. It feels great.”
South Pasadena junior Tony Veiller belted a three- run home run in the fifth inning off Titans starter Chris Warren that easily cleared the fence in left field, giving the Tigers their first lead of the game, 3-2. It was a lead the Tigers never relinquished.
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“You know Veiller hit a good pitch; he hit a good pitch and he got into that ball,” San Marino coach Mack Paciorek said. “That kind of turned things around for them.”
Veiller’s blast was the third of four consecutive hits for South Pasadena (13-12 overall, 7-8 league) to open the fifth inning, and chased Warren from the game. Brian Swanson led off the frame with a single, followed by a Tyler Ryan double to set up Veiller. After Veiller’s homer, San Marino brought in reliever Everett Phillips,but the junior allowed a single to the first batter he faced, walked another, and eventually gave up two-out, two-run double by Derek Eisen that Titans right fielder Kwame Do dived for but couldn’t catch.
South Pasadena started pitcher Anthony D’oro before giving way to Veiller, who took over on the mound after Stevie Yortsos led off the fifth inning with a double off the top of the wall in right-center field. Veiller hit the first Titans batter he faced before setting down the next three in order, including the last two on strikeouts. D’oro got the win and Veiller earned his first save of the season.
“We lined it up where Anthony was going to start and Tony was going to go second. He was fresh on the mound; we didn’t throw either of them two since last Thursday,” Chevrier said. “(Veiller) is a competitor and a good baseball player. He put us in a position to win the game.”
San Marino (11-14, 6-9) strung together four consecutive hits off D’oro in the third inning to open the scoring. With one out, Yortsos hit a triple off the base of the wall in right-center field and scored on a Tarik El-abour single.
Niko Horwith followed with a single, advancing El- abour to third base, but was promptly picked off first by D’oro. Joe Forgatch then singled to drive home the Titans’ second run before D’oro escaped the inning by inducing a popout from Doug Bayberry.