By Nathan Cambridge, Correspondent
TEMPLE CITY – Pinch-runner Bobby Hubble scored the go-ahead run for Temple City in the fourth inning on a close play at the plate and the Rams hung on from there for a 3-2 victory over visiting Don Lugo in their CIF-SS Division 4 Second Round baseball playoff game Tuesday afternoon.
“Good pitching, timely hitting, and we beat a really good ball club,” Temple City coach Barry Bacon said.
The score was tied at two in the fourth inning with Hubble, who was pinch running for Gabriel Juarez who had hit a single, at second base and two out.
Senior Kyle Starling then hit a single into right field and Hubble, a postseason call-up from the junior varsity, started running and was sent home by coach Bacon. Conquistador right-fielder Andrew Hernandez’s throw beat the sophomore home, but catcher Christian Kelley’s tag was late and the Rams (22-3-1) led 3-2.
“I saw the hit and just took off and rounded third, and it was kind of scary when the catcher had the ball already. I just decided to slide and it was a good feeling when I was safe,” said Hubble, who also pinch ran and scored in the Rams first-round victory against Kaiser.
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Starling finished the game on the mound to earn his fifth save by striking out two then getting a pop out from Rodney Little to end the game after starting pitcher Corey Copping had given up consecutive singles to start the seventh and was relieved.
“(Kyle) kind of relishes that spot. He knows that’s his spot to come in and you could see it in the bullpen. He was on and he wanted it,” Bacon said.
Copping, who will pitch on scholarship for the University of Oklahoma next year, got the win going six innings allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out six and walking one.
Previous to driving in the eventual game-winner in his third at-bat Starling, hitting at the top of the order, drew walks to lead off the first and third innings. Both times the senior scored a run with Corey Copping driving him in.
In the first inning it was a sacrifice fly to center field with the bases loaded and in the third it was on a ground rule double down the third base line with runners on first and second.
Don Lugo (20-6) scored both of its runs in the top of the fourth inning. The first two runners reached base on a walk and an infield error respectively.
After the Conquistadores advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, Jacob Cauffman hit a single up the middle for two RBI.
The Rams tested Hernandez’s arm again in the sixth inning looking for an insurance run. With two out Ram Brad Guerrero was on at second base pinch running for Ben Arrue who had hit a double. Nicolas Starling hit a single to right field and Guerrero was waved around third base, but once again Hernandez’s throw beat the runner and this time the tag was applied in time by Kelley ending the inning.
Temple City will play next on Friday in the quarterfinals at Granite Hills, who beat Calvary Chapel of Santa Ana 6-1 in its second round game.
“We’re just going to head to the quarterfinals and see what we can do,” Bacon said.