By Steve Ramirez
EL MONTE – Arroyo High School might eventually wrap up the Mission Valley League baseball title, but Mountain View will go down fighting.
The Vikings showed their moxie Wednesday.
Richard Ward singled home Luis Aguilar in the seventh inning to complete a two-out rally and Mountain View stayed alive for a league championship with a 4-3 victory over the visiting Knights.
Mountain View improved to 9-12 overall and 7-5 in league play. Arroyo’s lead is now two games after the Knights fell to 10-8 and 9-3.
“If they would have won, they would have won the league (title),” Mountain View coach Angel Lopez said. “We still need help from other teams, but at least we took care of our own game.
“We did a great job today. We scored that run (in the seventh inning) with two outs. These guys didn’t give up. It really shows the resilience of our team.”
The race looked over after Arroyo, getting two RBIs from pitcher Lorenzo Perez, took a 3-0 lead into the fifth inning. But Mountain View, which had just one hit through the first four innings, refused to yield.
The Vikings cut it to 3-2 in the fifth on a RBI single by Nathen Leyva and a RBI double by Josh Martinez. They tied it in the sixth on a single by Jordan Santone, a passed ball and a RBI single by Martin Chairez.
Mountain View, after turning away Arroyo in the seventh, won it in the bottom of the inning. Aguilar singled with two outs before John Correa reached on a fielding error. Ward then made the most of the opportunity, singling to center field to score Aguilar with the game-winner.
“It was just an intense moment,” Ward said. “I had to take a deep breath, focus and do what I did.
“We just had to go hard. It doesn’t matter, last inning, we’re going to take it to the end.”
Earlier, Arroyo built a 3-0 lead after scoring one run in the second and two in the fourth. The Knights went up 1-0 on an RBI double by Perez. The pitcher made it 3-0 in the fourth with a RBI triple, which also saw him score on a throwing error.
Arroyo, after Mountain View rallied to tie it at 3, had a chance to take the lead in the seventh. The Knights loaded the bases with one out on an error, a fielder’s choice and a walk. But Ward struck out Marco Duenes and induced Jesus Reus to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
“We knew going in, we were playing with a three-game lead,” Arroyo coach Randy Twist said. “It wasn’t a must-win for us, it was for them. We have a little leeway.
“They earned it and we didn’t. We played, I don’t think to our capabilities. But they earned it, they played tough.”
Arroyo is still in solid position to take the league title. The Knights need to win two of their last three games — vs. South El Monte on Friday and against Rosemead and Gabrielino next week.
“We have three left and we have to win two of the next three, and it doesn’t matter,” Twist said. “If we win all three of them, it really doesn’t matter. They have to play lights outs. I don’t know, but we’ll see (what happens).”
By Steve Ramirez