By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
TEMPLE CITY — There was every reason to believe that Temple City High School’s Corey Copping would finish the job on the mound in the seventh and come away unscathed despite two errors by the Rams in the first inning.
Copping, in the seventh with a two-run lead, recorded two quick outs on a pop up and fly out to right, and all seemed to be in control.
The game nearly fell apart for the Rams after Copping, Benji Sanderson and Kyle Starling combined to deliver 14 consecutive ball on pitches that allowed La Canada to cut the game to a one-run deficit and the bases loaded.
But after a quick warm-up and switching from first base, Starling on a 1-1 count got the final out on a pop fly to center, allowing Temple City to escape with a 4-3 victory over La Canada on Tuesday afternoon in Rio Hondo League play.
While the boisterous crowd may have been treated to a game filled with suspense, the feeling was mixed among Temple City coach Barry Bacon — “A very sloppy game” — and La Canada coach Dennis Ballard — “We gave it away” — who sat through a combined five errors and four wild pitches.
The near-giveaway started with an unassuming 3-1 walk from Copping to Cole Herzer. A wild pitch put Herzer at second, adding fuel to the fire. Then it was evident that Copping had grown fatigued after a 3-2 walk to Jacob Yonan. Sanderson came in relief, but his first throw was a check-throw to first base that went high and out of reach, advancing the runners one base.
Kevin Paynter drew a four-pitch walk as did Matteus DeFaria, whose walk scored Herzer to make it 4-3. Starling was next on the mound, and his first pitch — like the previous 13 pitches — was a ball high before delivering a strike and finally getting Clayton Hermann to fly out to Sanderson at center to end the suspense.
“We kind of lost focus of what we were doing,” Bacon said. “We thought we would come out in the seventh and boom, boom, boom, no problem. We just lost focus. It was kind of strange. (Copping’s) never done that in three years we’ve had him.”
And therein lies the reason Bacon never thought about yanking Copping from the mound.
“Not in a million tries would I guess that he would have lost it like that,” he said. “He battled being down 2-0. I think he just got tired.”
There was no silverlining for La Canada (7-4, 0-1), which continues its tough week and prepares to host a resurgent San Marino (8-1, 2-0) team on Friday.
“We gave it away,” La Canada coach Dennis Ballard said. “It was a mental lapse that really hurt us. They tried to give it back to us. We didn’t really earn that ending. We exchanged quitting on the game. We’re really disappointing in that. It was a bad loss. We got beat by a good team, but I feel we’re as good as they are. We gave it away and that’s what hurts.”
Temple City improved to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in league, a feat that looked like an early giveaway.
With aggressive base running and a couple of Temple City errors, the Spartans manufactured a 2-0 lead that started with a Hermann single. Johnny Selsor reached first on a throwing error and a Scott Moulin ground out allowed Hermann to score on the throw to first. Selsor made it 2-0 on an Anthony Mizrahi sacrifice fly.
La Canada capitalized from Temple City miscues early, and the Rams returned the favor starting in the third inning.
Ben Arue singled to lead off the third and advanced to second on a Cameron Legrand sacrifice bunt. Tony Valencia then advanced to third on a catcher’s interference before a balk on La Canada pitcher Mitch Russell advanced the runners with one out. Starling’s sacrifice fly to center allowed Arue to score and make it 2-1.
Arrue was at it again in the fifth, this time tying the game after connecting on a 3-2 pitch for a home run to deep center.
The miscues continued in the sixth for La Canada.
Temple City’s Corey Copping drew a walk on a full count with Herzer in relief. Corey stole second before twin Calvin connected on a 3-2 pitch for a single. Sanderson advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt before a wild pitch scord Corey to give Temple City its first lead, 3-2, while Calvin held at third. He wouldn’t be there long, as another wild pitch after a ground out allowed Calvin to score.
Despite a rough start and end, Corey Copping was solid on the mound. He pitched threw 95 pitches (65 strikes) in 6 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on one hit. He struck out seven and gave up two walks.
Russell pitched five innings for the Spartans and gave up two earned runs on four hits and three walks.
“Other than the home run we scored our runs on sloppy defense,” Bacon said. “It wasn’t our best game and it wasn’t their best game.”