By Steve Ramirez
LA PUENTE – There was nothing complex about the La Puente High School’s key to victory Tuesday.
The Warriors slugged three doubles during the first 11 pitches they saw, then rode the arm of pitcher Ethan Ethchabarren en route to 3-1 win over host Bassett in a Montview League game.
La Puente, getting RBI doubles from Etchabarren and Joel Serna, stayed atop the league standings after improving to 7-8 overall and 6-1 in league play. Etchebarren gave up three hits and stuck out seven.
Otoniel Solis had a RBI for the Olympians, who slipped to 5-6 and 3-4. The Olympians’ Frank Villanueva gave up six hits and struck out two.
“He knows how to pitch,” La Puente coach Javier Fierro said of Etchabarren. “He wasn’t his best. He had trouble adjusting to the wind, but he understands how to make them hit the ball off balance and get them out. We’re lucky to have him.”
The outcome was all but decided in the first inning after the Warriors scored three runs during the first 20 pitches. Eric Morales led off with a double and scored when Etchabarren followed with a RBI double to center field.
Serna made it 2-0 with a double to left field before he scored on a fielding error to make it 3-0.
“We started well, but then we got excited,” Fierro said. “We don’t finish. We start tapering off. I’m just trying to get them to relax, like the first inning and swing the bats.”
Etchbarren took it from there.
He stymied the Olympians, who had chances in the third, fourth and fifth.
Bassett, which made it 3-1 in the first on a two-base error, a sacrifice and a RBI groundout by Solis, had a shot to tie the score in the third following back-to-back singles by Mark Vega and Eric Ruff with two outs.
But Etchabarren closed the door by striking out Solis.
Matthew Robles advanced to second with one out following an error and sacrifice. But he was stranded when Etchabarren struck out the next two batters in to keep it a 3-1 in the fifth.
“He’s got a great curveball,” Bassett coach Gabriel Cuevas said. “That’s what got us. It was fastball, fastball, then a big-league curveball.”
Solis led off the sixth with a single, but was stranded after Etchabarren struck out Estevan Gonzalez and Giovanni Garica before inducing Andrew Robles to ground out. He then retired the Olympians in order in the seventh, giving up three groundouts to win it.
“I told them before the game that they run their own destiny,” Fierro said. “If they want it, they can play that way and win. If not, then they’ll fall apart, but it depends on what they do. It’s up to them.”
By Steve Ramirez