By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
MONROVIA – It wasn’t bizarre baseball.
It was Temple City-Monrovia baseball.
A game that perhaps should be remembered for its magnificent pitching duel that needed 11 innings to complete instead will be remembered for a foul ball that wasn’t.
Jairo Jiorge connected on a high chopper off home plate and saw the ball settle on the chalk, giving Nick Bueno just enough time to score from third and give the host Wildcats a dramatic 2-1 Rio Hondo League victory Tuesday afternoon.
“Well, to be honest with you after 29 years it’s a Monrovia-Temple City game,” a relieved Monrovia co-head coach Dave Moore said. “We knew going in that they have a very good pitching staff and they have arms that we all know about and we know that it’s just a matter of scrapping and doing what you can do.”
Temple City catcher Jonah Jarrard, on instruction from Rams coach Barry Bacon, jumped out of his catching stance and stood watch, only to see the ball die down on the chalk before it being called fair.
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“We were screaming to let it go foul,” Bacon said. “And then it got held on the chalk. (Home plate umpire Chris) McNeise made the right call and there’s nothing we can do about it, and we’re probably not going to get Bueno at the plate anyway because he’s going on contact.
“It was a correct call. It’s a funky way to lose the game. It’s never happened to me in 14 years. It’s just interesting that such a well-pitched game ends on a nubber, but someone had to win.”
The latest installment lasted 2 hours, 48 minutes. It certainly didn’t seem like it would need to go that long with the Rams (6-3, 1-1) holding strong to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh thanks to stellar pitching by Corey Copping, who pitched seven innings and struck out seven.
Copping’s lone run against him came when Reed Miller, a pinch-runner for Joe Mata who connected for a two-out double, scored off a Copping wild pitch to give Monrovia (6-4-1, 3-0) life.
“Corey absolutely threw great,” Bacon said. “But we had some bad choices in the seventh. We dirted the pitch we shouldn’t have. So they score on a (wild pitch) and they score on a nubber to beat us.”
Temple City stranded 10 runners, including Jarrard in the 11th after he doubled, but the Rams would ground out twice before ending the threat on a strikeout.
Junior Kevin Shue pitched six strong innings for the Wildcats. He allowed just three hits to go along with six strikeouts. Carl Daniels came in relief and picked up the win after pitching five innings and fanning five.
Monrovia came away the victor despite uncharacteristically committing four errors, three alone from Bueno.
“The key thing is he had his three errors pretty much early on and he had three or four chances later on in the game and made every one,” Moore added. “He has the ability to just forget about it and go on to the next play.”
Bueno did just that.
The senior shortstop more than redeemed himself when he hit a hard line drive to center on the first pitch in the 11th inning for a triple that set up the winning run.