By Steve Ramirez
DUARTE – It was put up or shut up for the Duarte High School baseball team.
The Falcons had to win, or say goodbye to their Montview League title hopes.
Catcher Sergio Garcia and pitcher Joel Ortega kept those aspirations alive Tuesday.
Garcia and Ortega each had RBIs in the sixth to break a score-less tie and Ortega pitched a solid six innings to lead Duarte to a 3-1 victory over Sierra Vista in a key Montview League game at Montgomery Field.
The Falcons improved to 11-11 overall and 8-3 in league play. Drew Valdez, who relieved Ortega, got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to earn the save.
Oscar Huerta had an RBI for Sierra Vista, which slipped to 14-5 and 8-3.
“This was big,” Duarte coach Brian Grimm said. “If we lose, we go down two games with three to play. It’s a big win.”
The encounter was a tight battle for five innings between Ortega and Sierra Vista’s Andrew Luna before Duarte broke through in the sixth. Center fielder Grant Goldsmith led off with a single and scored when Garcia lined a double to left-center field for a 1-0 lead.
“I just wanted to get a hit and help my team out,” Garcia said. “We needed to score a run there. But really, just trying to help my team out.”
Ortega then pushed it to 2-0 with a RBI single to right. The Falcons made it 3-0 on an errant pick-off throw.
“Their pitchers did a good job and their offense found the holes when they needed it,” Sierra Vista coach Brett Stevens said. “We got the ball up a bit (to Garcia), which was unlike (Luna). He usually works it down in the zone, but he was up today. They finally caught one.”
Sierra Vista, which missed on a scoring chances in the first and third innings, nearly rallied in the seventh.
The Dons loaded the bases on an error and back-to-back singles by Derian Torres and pinch-hitter Ivan Sanzon.
Valdez relieved Ortega and stuck out Jose Sanchez. Huerta hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. But Torres was thrown out at third tried to advance to end the game.
“I always get concerned, because we tend to give up runs in bunches,” Grimm said. “(Ortega’s) had some bad luck and I really felt he deserved to win this game, so I had to go and get (someone else), just a fresh arm.”
By Steve Ramirez