Northview coach Darren Murphy: “The goal is to be on the busride home Thursday with a shot to win this thing rather than needing help or hoping somebody loses. But you know Nogales is going to be ready. They’re going to rally them up and he (Nogales coach John Romano) will use every rally tactic he can.”
Nogales coach John Romano: “We’re in fourth, we’re 19-5 and we’re going to play Thursday. We’ve got the same team that won 22 games in a row last year and was the league champs. There is no magic here. We were beaten, we lost and they outplayed us. That’s the bottom line, there’s no sugar-coating it.”
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Northview all but ended what little chance Nogales had of defending its Valle Vista League title with a 7-0 shutout over the Nobles on Tuesday at Northview.
Vikings pitcher Niko Castaneda deserves most of the credit for out-dueling Nogales’ reigning league MVP pitcher Erik Gonzales, pitching a complete game and scattering five hits.
Castadena didn’t do it alone, Northview turned three double plays to improve to 19-6 and 7-2.
The Vikings, ranked fourth in Division 4, remain a game back of sixth-ranked San Dimas (19-6, 8-1), which defeated Pomona 5-0 behind a perfect game from Jimmy Lambert, who also had nine strikeouts.
Northview finishes league next week with two games against San Dimas that could decide the league title if the Vikings can defeat Nogales again on Thursday.
The Nobles are 19-5 overall, but a disappointing 5-4 in league to fall to fourth in the VVL behind Baldwin Park (18-5, 7-3).
“Year in and year out Niko gives us a great performance in a big game,” Vikings coach Darren Murphy said. “We had to win today to make Thursday more fun for us.”
Murphy admits its a brutal league with four teams already with 18 or more wins. But the Vikings aren’t playing for playoff spots anymore, they want a league title and need keep pace with San Dimas, who faces Pomona again before next week’s big series.
“The goal is to be on the busride home Thursday with a shot to win this thing rather than needing help or hoping somebody loses,” Murphy said. “But you know Nogales is going to be ready. They’re going to rally them up and he (Nogales coach John Romano) will use every rally tactic he can.”
Nogales, ranked ninth in Division 4, is already assured of a playoff spot no matter what happens.
But it didn’t make losing to Northview any easier, especially the way it happened.
Northview scored six of its seven runs in the second inning, taking advantage of three Nobles errors, a passed ball for a run and some timely hitting.
Northview’s Kollby Oriti tripled home a run to make it 5-0 and Jake Grijalva doubled home Oriti to make it 6-0.
Oriti also doubled home a run in the sixth, which was the Vikings’ only other hit outside the second inning. They finished with five hits.
But four of the six runs in the second were unearned, which didn’t sit well with Romano.
“We don’t do that, we don’t make errors like that, that’s not us.” Romano said. “We made them, we lost and that’s it. What else is there to say?”
Well, actually, Romano had plenty.
“We’re in fourth, we’re 19-5 and we’re going to play Thursday, that’s it,” the veteran coach said. “We’ve got the same team that won 22 games in a row last year and was the league champs. There is no magic here. We were beaten, we lost and they outplayed us. That’s the bottom line, there’s no sugar-coating it.”
Nogales’ best chances came in the first and second innings with leadoff singles. But in both innings the Nobles tried moving runners across on a sacrifice bunt which led to a force out at second in the first inning, and a double play in the second.
“Those are huge momentum shifts,” Murphy said. “As an offense you’re happy you got the first runner on base and you’re trying to get the guy over. When it backfires, it’s a momentum killer.”