By John Honell, Correspondent
COVINA – Taking advantage of the only error in the game, La Salle High School knocked Covina out of the CIF-Southern Section baseball playoffs for the second consecutive season.
The Lancers (18-10) scored three runs in the top of the fourth inning, two of them unearned, and came from behind to beat the Colts, 3-2, in a Division 4 first-round game Thursday.
“Playoff baseball is tough,” said coach John Agajanian, whose Lancers advance to Tuesday’s second round. “You can’t make mistakes. We’re all good teams that get in here and we took advantage of their only mistake.”
Steven Petrovich singled to lead off the fourth for the Lancers. Starting pitcher Bowdien Derby smashed a ground ball that looked like a double-play ball.
The throw hit Petrovich in the back to put runners on second and third. A groundout by John Auer scored the first run, then junior Chris Williams hit one over the left-center-field fence for two runs, which proved enough for Derby.
“I think that was just the baseball gods looking down on us,” Derby said. “We were able to get that throw and that sparked us. I was coming in from third and saw that ball go out and I started jumping up and down. I knew that run was all we needed for the W.”
Williams hit a 1-0 pitch for his sixth home run of the season.
“I just tried to drive it,” Williams said. “It happened to go out. In a playoff game, it has to be the best. After that, everything came on our side. It’s a great feeling.”
The error ruined a great pitching performance by Jason Martinez, who scattered four hits in the loss.
“They say it’s a game of inches,” Colts coach Pete Loaiza said. “A foot to the right and it’s a double play. Instead, they get three runs. I thought (Jason) was phenomenal. He did an unbelievable job and I’m sorry we didn’t win it for him.”
The Colts (16-11) jumped in front on a first-inning home run by Vinny Venegas. They scored again in the second on a double by Nick Simons, a hit batter, a sacrifice and a groundout, but that was it for the Colts as Derby struck out the side in the seventh.
“He (Derby) started off a little shaky,” Agajanian said. “He gathered himself and we’re used to that. He’s pretty good and he’s used to going all the way because he gets better as the game goes along.”
Derby, starting his first playoff game, appeared nervous at the start. He settled down, scattering five hits and striking out nine to improve to 10-1.
“It was hard for me to concentrate in school today,” Derby said. “I was a little stiff the first two innings but our defense made plays today and it was all downhill from there.”