Despite losing their starting pitcher in the second inning, missing out on a key interference call that cost them a run and a barrage of base running errors, the So Cal Elite managed to hang on and beat Sueno Dorado Baseball Academy of San Luis 3-2 in walk-off fashion.
Kevin Amezquita started the game for So Cal Elite, but had to come out after two scoreless innings with shoulder pain.
“(Amezquita) had tightness in his shoulder, so he was a little bit wild,” said So Cal Elite head coach Jerry Alfaro. “His velocity was good, but he was a little rusty. He's a star quarterback in California, so he's starting to get adjusted to pitching again.”
Anthony Ayala relieved Amezquita and threw five strong innings, allowing two runs — one of which was unearned and came on a controversial non-call.
With two outs in the sixth inning, Eduardo Esparza pinch ran for Sueno Dorado catcher Felix Valencia who got aboard with a single. First baseman Gilberto Cano singled up the middle and Esparza was able to score after an errant throw from the center fielder sailed well past third base.
After all was said and done, Cano ended up on third after a second wild throw landed in front of the Sueno Dorado dugout. Alfaro argued that the Sueno Dorado dugout, who came out to celebrate the run, interfered with his team's ability to get the ball. After Alfaro went back to the dugout, Javier Sanchez drove Cano in with a base hit to left field.
“Basically our first baseman had to push his way in to get the ball,” Alfaro said. “The umpire said that there was no interference because they didn't touch the ball.
“I was protesting that they didn't touch the ball, but my first baseman crashed into them, that should have been interference.”
So Cal came right back and tied the game in the bottom of the sixth and then came up with a three-pitch, three diving-play seventh to shut down Sueno Dorado. Danny Navarro led off the seventh with a blooper toward the right field line. Second basemen Michael Veloz ranged way over from where he was playing up the middle, dove and caught the ball right before it hit the edge of the outfield grass.
The next play Enrique Guerrero lined a shot up the middle and again Veloz flashed his leather, this time to his right, making a backhanded dive to snag the ball out of midair.
So Cal came out in the bottom of the seventh, drew a couple of walks and brought up Joseph Mauldin who was able to drop one in front of the right fielder for the game-winning RBI.
“He's committed to Long Island University and he's more of a pitcher,” Alfaro said. “But he came through today with two clutch hits. It was a little blooper, but a hit's a hit.”
Sueno Dorado managed to fill up the base paths throughout the game, but could never quite push across any runs.
“We didn't hit a ton,” said Sueno Dorado manager Francisco Villegas.