By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN
There are always season-defining moments for teams that chase titles and that’s what the scene looked like with veteran Nogales coach John Romano jumping up and down with his players following Nogales’ dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Northview on Wednesday.
Nogales pitcher Erik Gonzalez and Northview’s Nick Chico battled it out for six scoreless innings before both teams busted through in the seventh.
Northview’s Alex Labor singled home Nick Ybarra and Jake Grijalva’s bases-loaded single scored Michael Carlos to give the Vikings a 2-0 lead.
Fortunately for the Nobles, Gonzalez settled down and got a fly-out and strikeout with the bases loaded to get out of the inning to keep his team within striking distance.
Gonzalez helped himself with a lead-off double to get the seventh-inning rally going.
After Chico got the next two batters to fly out, Eric Valenzuela singled to score Gonzalez, cutting the Vikings’ lead to 2-1.
Northview brought in DJ Howard to pitch, but he walked Adrian Guzman. Niko Castaneda came in to pitch for Howard, but he walked Cole Martinez to load the bases.
That set the stage for lefty Albert Lemus — one of only two seniors on the Nobles, and he went the other way with a game-winning walk-off single to left that scored Jacob Martin (who was running for Valenzuela) and Guzman for the winning run. (To continue click thread)
“Your adrenaline is going and you’re telling yourself to stay calm,” Lemus said. “I was thinking to keep my hands in and get a good pitch. I was able to get a good swing on it and when (both runs scored), I just thought this team has a lot of heart.”
Grijalva’s throw home from left was there in time to get Guzman, but the Vikings couldn’t hold on.
“It’s tough to lose that way because we should have had four or five runs in the seventh,” Northview coach Darren Murphy said. “You have to give their pitcher (Gonzalez) credit for keeping us to two runs.
“That allowed them to do what they did. We opened the door and they clutched-up and won a big one.”
Nogales improved to 19-5 and 8-1 in the Valle Vista to take a half game lead over San Dimas (15-7, 8-2) and a full game over Northview (14-6-1, 7-2).
Nogales visits Northview again on Friday and finishes the VVL with a home-and-away with San Dimas next week.
Both teams had chances through six innings, but Northview ran Nogales out of several run-scoring opportunities with three inning-ending double plays and four double-plays in all.
Romano, who is closing in on his 600th career victory, certainly enjoyed his 592nd career win.
“That was a great game wasn’t it?” Romano said. “We play as a team. We might not have the best players in the Valley or be the team with all the draft picks, but we’ve become a team this year.”