By Keith Lair
TEMPLE CITY — Monrovia and Temple City high schools intentionally place each other on opposite sides of the bracket when they co-host the season-opening Arcadia Elks baseball tournament.
“You want league to be the it,” Temple City coach Barry Bacon said. “To face them in a nonleague contest is not the desire in the tournament. Ultimately we try to avoid them here.”
But sometimes, there is no choice. It happened for the second time in 14 years on Thursday afternoon. Monrovia scored five runs in the first inning and defeated Temple City, 8-4, for the tournament championship on the Rams’ home field.
“Both sides would rather not do it,” Monrovia coach Brad Blackmore said. “When get to this point, it would not be the right thing to say you’re not going to do it.”
The teams will meet again in three weeks when the games really count, in Rio Hondo League action. They will also play back-to-back regular-season ending games.
“Who better than to play your rivals in the final?” said Monrovia center fielder Chris Burkholder, who recently signed a letter of intent to play for Dartmouth. “You have to jump on them and show them what what you’ve got.”
On a very cold Thursday, the Wildcats were able to size up the Rams with a powerful first inning offense. Seven of the first eight batters got on base and Monrovia scored five runs.
“It’s early, but you have to love the way we are swinging the bats,” Blackmore said. “For us, we have some offensive capabilities.”
Eric Cox sent Jake LeGrand’s first pitch to deep right field for a double. After a ground out, Joe Mata doubled down the left-field line and sophomore Jason Daly sent a 0-1 pitch over the left-field fence, the ball clearing the 355-foot sign.
“It felt good to come out and give it to them,” Daly said. “Having a step on them looks good.”
The Wildcats then drew a pair of walks and a Burkholder single to load the bases and Jacob Arfman singled to center field. When Tony Valencia could not come up with the ball, the Wildcats got another run across.
The Wildcats got only three more hits for the remainder of the game.
“The coach in me wonders why we had a slumber for two or three innings,” Blackmore said. “But that’s baseball.”
Monrovia, 4-0, did take advantage of five more Temple City errors.
“I told the kids that we’re a young team facing a good veteran team and the good veterans came out swinging the bats early,” Bacon said. “Maybe this loss was good for us.”
The Rams scored on two wild pitches and a passed ball.
Bobby Hubble got Temple City, 3-1, going by getting three hits and scoring twice. He had a double and triple.
“We saw their best pitcher,” Hubble said. “Maybe we can beat him during league.”