Baseball: Cal routs rival La Serna to stay tied for first in Del Rio; Santa Fe also in first after beating Pioneer

California players congratulate Christian Diaz (8) after scoring in their Del Rio League game at La Serna High School in Whittier on Wednesday April 5, 2017. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

When California High School coach Tony Nieto protested a call made by the home plate umpire in the top of the sixth inning, it fired his team up.Nieto was upset because La Serna coach Anthony Gonzales had crossed the basepath line in an attempt to meet with his pitcher, Abraham Carrillo. However, Gonzales had already used his maximum of three mound visits and was not going out there to bring in someone in relief.Although Nieto didn’t get the call he wanted, his team got the last laugh as the visiting Condors scored a whopping 10 runs in the seventh inning in a 14-4 victory over rival La Serna in a Del Rio League game on Wednesday afternoon.
California (10-4, 3-1) overcame two two-run deficits before opening the game up in the seventh inning. Condor starting pitcher Mike Gutierrez gave up two runs in the bottom of the first inning to give La Serna an early advantage. Gutierrez surrendered another pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
However, each time the Lancers went on top, the Condors answered back with a pair of runs in the ensuing innings.
After La Serna took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, California loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning to put the pressure back on Lancer starting pitcher Andrew Arguello.
Gilly Rodriguez’ sacrifice fly knocked in the Condors’ third run of the game and a hit batter and walk later, the score was once again tied up.
Senior right-hander Carrillo helped the Lancers escape a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning, but in the seventh things didn’t go in his team’s favor.
Rodriguez led off with a single and was 90 feet away from scoring the go-ahead run after he stole second and took third base on a wild pitch. Senior Michael Saldana drove in Rodriguez with a sacrifice fly to right-center field.
After Saldana’s RBI, the Condors loaded the bags once again, thanks to a pair of walks and a fielding error by sophomore Vicente Garcia. A squeeze bunt, walk and hit-batter later, La Serna found itself down 8-4.
Just when it looked like things couldn’t get worst, freshman Jacob Sharp drove the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence for a grand slam.
Nieto said that even though the Condors went up by four, they never want to let up.
On Wednesday, La Serna (8-11-1, 2-2) had the weaker bullpen. The Lancers used four different pitchers in the disastrous 10-run inning. Nevertheless, Gonzales didn’t want to pin the loss on his bullpen.
Gutierrez (3-1) pitched six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits while striking out four and picked up the victory. Carrillo (2-4).
Cal coach Tony Nieto: “We always want to keep the foot on the gas pedal whenever we have the opportunity because we know at anytime they can hit their way back. We play in a very competitive league, but I think the key with this new pitching restrictions and rules, it’s going to be having a key bullpen.”
La Serna coach Anthony Gonzales: “We play as a team; we don’t look at any individual spots like that. We look at the whole team. We played a great six innings and we were three outs away, but we didn’t finish it. It’s still early in the season, but we have to go back to work on Friday and finish the first-round at hopefully 3-2. If we do that then we’re sitting right where we want to be.”
Cal’s Gilly Rodriguez: “Throughout the game, our coach kept reminding us to never give up and when the fifth and sixth innings came up those are the championship innings. He just reminded us that if you want to be a championship team you have to grind out those innings and stay on top.”
— Will Hernandez

Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary 20, St. Monica 0
Santa Fe 13, Pioneer 0
Whittier 9, El Rancho 2
Troy 5, Sonora 4
Fullerton 5, La Habra 3
Cal 3-1
Santa Fe 3-1
Whittier 2-2
El Rancho 2-2
La Serna 2-2
Pioneer 0-4

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