By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
PASADENA — With summer fast approaching, Pasadena High School baseball coach Mike Parisi probably figured it was time for a new look.
So earlier this week, the fifth-year Bulldogs coach made a wager with his team: if Pasadena beat Arcadia in the series finale he would shave his head on the mound after the game in celebration of his first-ever win over his alma mater.
True to his word, Parisi — holding 1-year-olddaughter Zo Michela on his lap — had his head shavedin front of a throng of fans after a 5-2 Bulldogs winFriday afternoon in Pacific League play.
Pasadena (10-10, 5-6) kept its playoff hopes alive and needs to win its next three games to keep the momentum going. As to where the Bulldogs will draw inspiration from next is up to Parisi, who certainly kept his end of the bargain.
“Sometimes a coach has to do something to inspire their kids,” Parisi said. “This was my way of inspiring them and to get them to play relaxed.”
Pasadena’s Devin Dixon, the designated hitter, had his best game of the season. He went 3-for-3 with a home run, double, single, three RBIs and two runs scored. He had one thing on his mind throughout the game.
“I was thinking about shaving coach’s head all game,” Dixon said. “That’s why I did it, but really this is a big win for us because it puts us in the running for CIF again.”
For Arcadia (19-5, 10-2) it was its second consecutive loss after the Apaches’ 41-game league winning streak was snapped earlier this week in a 3-0 loss to Burbank. The Apaches could only huddle from afar as Pasadena celebrated.
“You can see by the show that this was their season,” Arcadia coach Nick Lemas said.
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Arcadia’s streak started in the 2008-09 season and had since reeled off 14-0 seasons in consecutive years. In that span it seemed like a given the Apaches’ lone battle would come against their rival Crescenta Valley, but not anymore.
“We’re not just gonna roll out and beat teams,” Lemas said. “I think that’s maybe a mentality we’ve kind of developed and something we need to change.”
Parisi changed his strategy a bit, opting to go with Calvin Christiansen and, if the game was close, go with ace Patrick Saucedo to end the game. The move paid dividends as Christiansen gave up just one earned run and three hits in 4 2/3 innings. Saucedo gave up one run on two hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Arcadia’s Erik Trask got the start after sitting out against Burbank after suffering a cut in his lower right eye on Tuesday after getting hit with a badminton racquet. The cut required six stitches and it wasn’t until Thursday that was cleared to play. Traskgave up four earned runs on five hits in four innings. He struck out four but also hit three batters. Andrew Cordiero came in relief and gave up one run on two hits in two innings.
“(Trask) obviously wasn’t 100 percent,” Lemas said. “It [Trask missing Wednesday] threww of our rotation but that’s not an excuse. We have to win the games I feel we’re supposed to win.”
Pasadena capitalized early with opportunities in the first inning.Christiansen singled over the first baseman and Andrew Phillips followed it up with a single up the middle. Alex Baer then was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Devin Dixon, on an 0-1 pitch, connected for a two-run single to give Pasadena a 2-0 lead.Baer then scored from third when Zachary Orozco was caught between first and second on a steal attempt. Baer reached home before the play was made at first, giving Pasadena a quick 3-0 lead.
“Getting down 3-0 in the first isn’t exactly how you want to start the game,” Lemas said. “We get punched in the face and haven’t shown that we’re going to come back from it.”
Pasadena was saved by the bushes in the third inning that dissapated Arcadia’s momentum after a Gary Huang shot to center was ruled a ground rule double when the ball rolled into the bushes, preventing Brendan Toy to score from second. He was sent back to third before Brandon Benson was intentionally walked. The next batter, however, flew out to right to end the inning. A key play came early in that inning for Pasadena when Arcadia’s David Dominguez was caught stealing second.
Arcadia left six runners stranded in all, and Christiansen and Saucedo combined for four comeback hits to the mound that turned into routine plays at first, dissipating any Arcadia momentum.
Dixon hit a solo shot in the fourth, attacking a 1-1 pitch for a shot to right giving Pasadena a 5-0 lead.
Dominguez in the fifth drew a full-count walk but was called out at second by the home plate umpire on a Trask fielder’s choice. Lemas appealed the play, but to no avail. Trask then was forced out at second on a Toy fielder’s choice before Huang came up and connected on a 1-0 pitch for a two-run home run to right off of Saucedo to pull Arcadia within 4-2.
Dixon added the insurance run in the sixth thanks to a sacrifice fly from Chance Cobb. Dixon doubled to right-center and moved to third on Brian Blackburn’s single to right off a 1-0 pitch as the clutch hits kept coming through for the Bulldogs.
“Anytime against Arcadia you have to come up clutch,” Parisi said. “That’s what it takes. We’ve had such a hard time beat them, and to finally beat them it’s special.”