By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
TEMPLE CITY – Kaiser High School pitcher Christopher Mathewson made 16 throws to first base the entire game, six in the fourth inning.
Perhaps he should have paid a little more attention to the batters.
Temple City’s Ben Arrue and Gabriel Juarez connected for consecutive RBI singles in the fourth and Calvin Copping proved too strong on the mound with 12 strikeouts as the Rams ran away with a 5-1 victory Thursday in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.
Copping made 93 pitches (69 for strikes) and gave up just six hits in going the distance for Temple City (21-3-1), which advances to Tuesday’s second round.
Kaiser (18-9) found no rhythm at the plate, and squandered a golden opportunity in the third with two on and no outs. Copping showed poise despite an unearned run on a Arrue throwing error that allowed Erik Ascencion to score and give the Cats a 1-0 lead.
Copping came back strong, striking out the next two and recording the third out on a groundout, and it wasn’t long before Arrue came back with a little payback.
“You can’t give up so I just cut the tire and let the error go,” said Arrue of his mentality approaching the plate in the fourth. “I felt good that I redeemed myself.”
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Arrue, a senior third baseman, connected on a 1-1 pitch for an RBI single to right field, scoring Corey Copping who drew a four-pitch walk and executed the hit-and-run on Benji Sanderson’s hit to shallow center.
Freshman Gabriel Juarez connected for a base hit to left, scoring Sanderson for a 2-1 lead. The ball was bobbled in left field and Temple City coach Barry Bacon waved Arrue in for a 3-1 lead.
“We executed our hit-and-runs and our run game very well today,” Bacon said. “We did not execute the bunt game, and their execution of the bunt game got them their run. We switched to a hit-and-run and steal game and our kids did it perfectly. Then you have a pitcher throwing (74 percent) strikes, pounding the zone and going after hitters.”
Mathewson made four throws to first in the fifth when Cameron Legrand singled to right field to lead off.
“I think we forced him into it,” Bacon said. “They knew stuff about us and that we run and like to hit and run and play small ball. He’s good to the plate, but if we can hit and run, that’s impressive.”
Legrand eventually stole second and sophomore Bobby Hubble, a call-up from the junior varsity squad, entered as a pinch runner. On the next pitch, Calvin Copping helped his cause with a single to right field, and Hubble, who took a considerable lead, scored easily on the slide home for a 4-1 lead. Sanderson then connected on an RBI single to score Copping for the final score.
While the Rams were textbook on hit-and-run situations, it was Temple City’s ability to limit Kaiser to just one run in the third with two runners on and no outs that was key.
“I think that’s a huge momentum boost for us,” Bacon said. “Everybody is thinking if it’ll be one or three runs. When the scoreboard stays on one run we dodged a bullet and we go back to scoring.”