By John Honell, Correspondent
LA VERNE – Do the little things and good things will happen is the mantra of every high school coach in America.
It took seven attempts but the Damien High School baseball team finally did the little things in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 2-1 win over Charter Oak on Wednesday.
The win gave the Spartans (12-8-1, 6-5-1) a 1 1/2-game lead over the Chargers for third place in the Sierra League standings.
“I tell my boys it’s better to be lucky than good,” Spartans coach Al Leyva said. “(Charter Oak) is a quality team and today we were just lucky.”
Eric Quezada walked to lead off the seventh inning and Kevin Hindes sacrificed him to second. Kevin Macedo was hit by a pitch. Then, with two outs,Quezada stole third on 2-1 count against David Banuelos. He scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
“I gave (Quezada) the green light,” Leyva said. “The third baseman was playing way back and Eric has good speed. I didn’t think there was any way (the catcher) could throw him out and my thought was maybe he throws one away and we sneak one in.
“But we end up getting a wild pitch so it worked out for us.”
Sophomore Grant Hockin went the distance for his fifth win. He walked two and gave up two hits.
“My goal is to complete every game,” Hockin said. “I just stuck with my gameplan to keep the ball low and throw strikes. My pitches were everything I wanted today. I felt like I had my best stuff today but it was a tough game all the way to the end.”
The Chargers (12-8, 5-7) scored first in the top of the third inning.
Daniel Vasquez led off with a double, the Chargers’ first hit, and went to third on a ground ball to short. Then, with the infield playing in, he scored on a ground out by Nohlan Hernandez.
“He made a mental mistake going on the ground ball in front of him,” Chargers coach Tom Quinley said. “But, he was going on contact when he was on third and we made it work out.”
The Chargers wasted a gutsy pitching performance by starter Mac Lupton.
The Spartans got the leadoff runner on base in every inning but didn’t score until the bottom of the sixth.
Chad Lee, who walked leading off the sixth, was the final hitter against Lupton.
Jon Reid came in and was greeted by back-to-back singles by Banuelos and Chad Hockin to drive in Lee with the tying run.
It looked like it could be a big inning for the Spartans, but Reid got a strikeout and Vasquez picked Banuelos off second.”
“We didn’t execute today,” Leyva said. “They ended up turning three double plays off the bunt. We had the leadoff runner on in every inning and we couldn’t get him over to second and get that key hit.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board and get it going. Other than that last inning, we ran ourselves out of almost every inning. Grant kept us close and we found a way to hang in there.”