IT’S OVER: La Habra’s A.J. Oviedo celebrates scoring a run during Wednesday’s Freeway League victory over Sonora. (Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)
By John Sherrard, Correspondent
LA HABRA – It’s been almost three years since La Habra has beaten Sonora in a baseball game. The Highlanders ended that dubious streak ended Wednesday, and it took them eight innings to do it.
After six consecutive Freeway League losses over the past two seasons, the visiting Highlanders finally defeated Sonora, 8-6, to create a three-way tie atop the standings with Sunny Hills.
With the score tied at 6-6 entering the eighth inning, La Habra (5-5, 3-1) senior centerfielder Aaron Porter led off with a single and came all the way home on an RBI single by first baseman Anthony Oviedo (2 RBIs, two runs). Porter just avoided a tag by Sonora (5-6, 3-1) catcher Andrew Piraino to give La Habra a 7-6 lead while Oviedo advanced to second.
After Oviedo moved over to third on a passed ball and right fielder Omar Villicana (1 for 3, 3 RBIs) hit a sacrifice fly to score Villicana for an 8-6 lead.
La Habra coach and former Sonora assistant Paul Caffrey was elated about his first victory over Sonora after two years.
“Finally, it’s been a while. I have a lot of respect for coach (Pat) Tellers and he taught me a lot,” Caffrey said.
“It feels great, but it definitely wasn’t the way I wanted it, leading 6-3 in the seventh and you expect to get the win.”
La Habra starting pitcher Josh Staumont, who allowed three first-inning runs on four hits, was sailing along until the bottom of the seventh inning after retiring 16 of 19 batters and giving up only two hits.
After loading the bases on a walk and two consecutive singles by speedy Nick Piraino (1 for 3, 2 runs) and starting pitcher Bobby Pettey (3 for 4, 2 runs, stolen base), Staumont was relieved by Porter (1-1), who is the closer.
Two more singles by Brandon Munoz and Brandon Chandler (2 for 3, 2 RBIs, run) brought the Raiders within a run at 6-5. Porter then retired the next two batters looking on strikeouts, but uncorked a wild pitch to the next batter that brought in the tying run.
Sonora coach Pat Tellers waved in the second runner, Munoz, who hesitated just enough to give Porter time to throw him out at the plate to catcher Jacob Looney. That sent the game into extra innings.
“I didn’t think he (Munoz) was going to come around actually, and I picked it up and threw it,” Porter said.
Porter had a big day at the plate in going 3 for 5, reaching base four times and scoring three runs.
La Habra junior shortstop Zack Ferreira was 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base.
“I hate to give it (win) to them like that,” Tellers said of the loss. “It was pretty ugly on both parts, but it’s always a great rivalry every time we play them.”
Sonora committed four errors in the game and Tellers pointed out the obvious.
“For us, It just comes down to playing catch. If you can’t play catch you’re not going to win,” he said.