Staff photo by Keith Durflinger
California 8, Whittier 6, 8 innings
By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
WHITTIER — It was beginning to look like the race for the Del Rio League baseball title was Whittier High School’s to lose.
California had other ideas.
Alec Ojeda went 3 for 4 with three RBIs and Robert Barraza and Daniel Marquez scored on an infield error in the eighth and the Condors moved into a tie for first in Del Rio League with the host Cardinals after rallying for an 8-6 victory on Friday.
California, also getting a key two-run single by Nathan Blount in the fifth, improved to 7-4 overall and 4-1 in league play. Whittier, getting three hits and three RBIs from first baseman Michael Vaca, slipped to 10-2 and 4-1.
“I don’t think there was a lot of importance (of where it put us in the league standings),” California coach Tony Nieto said. “It was important for us to not give in and keep battling.
“We are really proud of our team because we found a way to gut it out.”
The Condors, who had six hits during the final four innings, rallied from deficits in the fifth and seventh innings before winning in the eighth.
Marquez, who scored three runs, followed a hit-batter with a one-out double before Michael Esparza hit a ground ball to first that Vaca was unable to handle, scoring Barraza and Marquez for the 8-6 lead.
Whittier, which won in extra innings in two of its four league victories, had its chance in its half of the inning, getting its first two batters on base on walks.
But Damian Salcedo, who led off with a walk, was thrown out at third trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt, and Barraza, who relieved Jimmy Olguin, induced Brandon Fortenberry to pop out. Johnny Salgado, after Jose Romero walked, then flied out to center field to end the game.
“Like I told the guys, it was our turn to lose one,” Whittier coach Eric Ramirez said. “We’ve had some really tough, close games, and we pulled them out.
“Today just didn’t go our way. But you play the averages and if we battle like this the rest of the way, we’ll win some more, and we’ll be fine.”
El Rancho 3, Santa Fe 2, 8 innings – El Rancho Luis Plascencia’s single in the top of the eighth inning broke a 2-2 tie and the Dons were able to survive a late rally by Santa Fe. El Rancho improves to 7-3 overall and 3-2 in league play, while Santa Fe drops to 2-8 and 1-4.
Early on, Whittier looked like it would have a two-game advantage in the standings. The Cardinals, getting a solid effort on the mound from Jose Melendrez and RBIs from Salgado and Vaca, led 4-1 after four innings.
But the Condors, who had just one hit through the first two innings, turned on the switch and rallied to tie it at 4 after a three-run fifth.
Marquez, Anthony Von Slomski and Ruben Pinedo walked before Ojeda singled to make it 4-2. Blount then followed with a two-run single to center field to tie it at 4.
Vaca countered with a home run to left in the sixth for a 5-4 lead. But Ojeda followed with a two-run homer in the seventh for a 6-5 lead.
Vaca then tied it at 6 with a RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the inning.
“You have to give credit to our ball club to being disciplined, and finishing the game all the way through,” Nieto said. “Whittier is great ball club.
“It’s going to be a fight for the (Del Rio League title). This league is competitive and you have to be ready to play every single day.”