Baseball: Damien pulls out thriller over Charter Oak in extra innings, 6-5

COVERAGE COMPLAINERS: Johnny “Nut & Honey” Honell covered yesterday’s game and sent me another laughable email of his pregame conversations with fans watching with him, Honell emailing to me: “I had two people from Charter Oak and one from Damien ask me what the (bleep) we were doing covering spring football. One said something like: ‘you used a third of the page for spring football and we can’t get any spring sports like baseball and softball, you guys are idiots.'” … You know you can’t win when people complain about coverage at a game you’re covering …

By John Honell, Correspondent
Even Ernie “Let’s play two” Banks would have hesitated to play two in the frigid weather at Damien High School on Thursday afternoon. The Spartans baseball team (4-4 overall, 2-1 league), ranked sixth by this newspaper, had to go extra innings to pull out a 6-5 win over No. 2 Charter Oak. The teams are now tied for second place in the Sierra League, one game behind Chino Hills.

“This was a two-game swing for us,” Damien coach Al Leyva said. “We could have been two games down to them if we had lost. I always say that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”

Aaron Calderon beat out an infield single to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Kevin Hindes sacrificed, but the throw trying to get the lead runner was high, leaving both runners safe.

Nick Ceccarelli laid down another bunt, but no one covered first, loading the bases with no one out.

Dani Schlarman, who came in to pitch in the seventh inning, worked the count to 3-2, then punched a single through the hole on the left side to bring in the winning run.

“I was nervous going up,” Schlarman said. “It was my first time going against a lefty.

“I hit an outside fastball. Coach always teaches us to crowd the plate with two strikes and look outside fastball. I was just trying to put the ball in play and that’s what I did.”

The win ruined a great pitching effort by Chargers reliever John Reid.

Reid entered the game after Chad Lee hit a home run in the bottom of the fourth to give the Spartans a 5-2 lead.

He shut down the Spartans on one hit until the eighth, and at one point struck out five consecutive batters.

“John did a heck of a job,” Charter Oak coach Tom Quinley said. “It was a tough loss, especially for Reid. He’s only a sophomore, but sometimes he’ll surprise you and throw like a senior.”

The Spartans had gone 10 innings without scoring a run until their bats woke up in the bottom of the third.

J.J. Murillo drilled a triple to the center-field fence to drive in a pair of runs. Calderon then followed with a home run to left for a 4-2 lead.

“It just happened for us,” Leyva said.

“Aaron’s done a great job for us. He wasn’t a starter at the beginning of the season. He got an opportunity one day and he ran with it.”

The Chargers clawed back to tie the score in the top of the fifth. Back-to-back singles by Nohlan Hernandez and A.T. De la garza and a walk to Mike Philp loaded the bases. The Spartans couldn’t turn a double play, costing them one run. A wild pitch brought in another, then an error brought in the third run of the inning to tie the score 5-5.

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  • Observing

    Charter Oak is looking good. Other then Gonzales, Damien lacks the depth in pitching. First time Damien bats came alive. Chino hills looking good as well. CO and Charter Oak are going to be the top two contenders for the sierra league title. Figures, Two best Teams, two best pitching staffs. We’ll see how league plays out in second round.

  • lefty

    Damien not playing well and still 2-1 in the league. Two blown double plays by DHS against CO kept game close. Charter Oak is not good. Lefty did pitch well for CO and kept them in it. No one team dominant in this league. Chino Hills, South Hills and Damien will fight for the title. Seen them all except claremont. CO will finish near the bottom of this league.

  • Dat new new

    Lefty wake up man CO has 3 solid starters that can go the distance and win them some games down the stretch