“I don’t need tell our guys anything,” Nogales coach John Romano said. “You guys (Tribune) have called them a surprise all year and have written that they’re (not very good). My guys are going to come back and play hard, I know that. They’re not supposed to be here. The guys who know everything about this, the sportswriters and coaches, they didn’t expect us to be here fighting for the title, so what the big deal? We’ve lost games before. We lost six games. But we’re going to come back Friday and play for the league championship.”
By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN
SAN DIMAS — With the Valle Vista League title on the line, the San Dimas High School baseball team was doing everything imaginable to give it away, committing five errors, walking six and hitting four batters to fall behind five runs after four innings.
But San Dimas’ Shawn Kennedy said enough was enough.
The senior shortstop led the Saints back with two home runs, including a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth that sent the game to extra innings where the Saints produced even more magic, scoring three times in the eighth to squeeze out a 9-8 victory after Nogales had scored twice to retake the lead.
“It’s one of those deals,” San Dimas coach Mike Regan said. “Kennedy got us going and the momentum carried us through. It was a great win. You always tell your team to keep fighting. This is why.”
Kennedy, who finished with four RBIs and three hits, also scored the game-winning run after Josh Avila’s bases loaded, one-out grounder to third skipped into left for an error, allowing Kennedy to easily score from third for the winning run.
Nogales (20-6, 9-2), which led 6-1 through four innings, will host San Dimas (17-7, 9-2) on Friday for the outright league title at 3:15 p.m. (Click thread to continue)
“It came down to Shawn Kennedy’s at bat (in the fifth),” Regan said. “He fouled off seven or eight pitches and hit a ball over the wall to cut Nogales’ lead to (6-2). That was the hit that got us going, then he does it again with a two-run shot to tie it, the kid’s amazing.”
The Saints scored four runs in the sixth to drawn even, 6-6.
Avila led off the inning with a double and scored on Jimmy Lambert’s single. Andrew Espinoza kept the inning alive with a two-out single that scored Lambert, setting the stage for Kennedy’s two-out, two-run homer that tied it.
They were Kennedy’s only two homers of the season.
“I had a feeling it would go out and it did,” Kennedy said of the game-tying homer. “We always battle. We always say don’t stop fighting until the end.”
That was true in the eighth inning as well.
Nogales freshman Anthony Guardado doubled to score Adrian Guzman and Erik Gonzalez’s long fly-out to right scored Malaquis Mojarro from third, giving the Nobles an 8-6 lead.
But the Saints came right back.
Ethan Shultz and Espinoza hit back-to-back singles to open the inning. Kennedy singled to bring in Shultz, and after a wild pitch, Espinoza moved to third and Kennedy to second.
Alec Montanez’s fly-out scored Espinoza for the game-tying run, the Nobles walked two intentionally to load the bases. Avila’s hard grounder was a potential inning-ending double play, but the error allowed Kennedy to score and the Saints to live another day.
“All we kept telling ourselves was to win and give ourselves a chance,” Kennedy said. “We wanted Friday’s game to mean something and now it does.”
Nogales coach John Romano marveled at Kennedy’s clutch homers and told a story of how he coached Kennedy’s dad in a 1989 San Gabriel Valley all-star game.
But he also said don’t feel sorry for his guys, not with another opportunity to clinch the title at home on Friday.
“I don’t need tell our guys anything,” Romano said. “You guys (Tribune) have called them a surprise all year and have written that they’re (not very good).
“My guys are going to come back and play hard, I know that. They’re not supposed to be here. The guys who know everything about this, the sportswriters and coaches, they didn’t expect us to be here fighting for the title, so what the big deal? We’ve lost games before. We lost six games. But we’re going to come back Friday and play for the league championship.”