By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
LA VERNE — Bonita High School has won five consecutive league crowns, and although some view this as a rebuilding season, the Bearcats showed Tuesday they are not quite ready to relinquish their championship form.
Alex Gonzalez’s RBI grounder gave Bonita the lead and pitcher Joe Willard turned away two scoring chances in the six and seventh innings as the Bearcats rallied for 3-2 victory over visiting Diamond Bar in the teams’ Hacienda League opener.
Justin Gomez and Ethan Muro also had RBIs for Bonita, which improved to 5-3. Diamond Bar, getting three hits and a RBI from Alek Jimenez and a solid effort on the mound from Chris Sanchez, slipped to 7-4.
Bonita, after tying it at 2 in the fourth on a RBI double by Ethan Muro and a sacrifice fly by Cory Kurkierewicz, took a 3-2 lead in the sixth following singles by Montgomery Montenegro and Chris Lopez and Gonzalez’ RBI grounder.
Willard, who gave up eight hits and struck out two, thwarted Diamond Bar rallies in the sixth and seventh innings.
The Brahmas put the tying and go-ahead runs on with no outs in the sixth following a lead-off single by Jimenez and a double by Brett Tweedie. But Willard ended the threat by inducing two flyballs and a groundout to keep the one-run lead.
The senior, after Diamond Bar loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, then secured the victory by getting Tweedie to fly out to center field.
Bonita coach John Knott: “Our guys did a good job of staying in the game. We didn’t put our heads down. Joe did a good job of keeping us in the game. We took advantage of an error, we had a hit, got a big double. It was great to (tie the score), then go ahead, and eventually get the win.”
Diamond Bar coach Eric Shibley: “I think we had our chances in five or six of the seven innings and not coming up with the timely hit. “We didn’t take advantage of the situation. You have to give credit to Bonita. We didn’t take advantage of their one mistake, and they took advantage of our mistake, and that was the difference.”
Bonita’s Joe Willard: “I was just trying to get ahead, throw strikes. I was really just trying to force (it on them), pitch to contact. We were fortunate that we got some good plays, and we did it.”
By Stephen Ramirez