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Castro, Camacho battle for nine innings, Hawks come away with win
GR 000000005 - 5-9-1
K 000000002 - 2-4-3
2B: Kofa, Morales RBI: Gila Ridge, Castro 2, Lopez, Hernandez, Browning; Kofa, Morales, Cordova SB: Gila Ridge, Mena, Castro WP: Castro (4-0) LP: Camacho (0-3)
Kofa senior Manny Camacho pitched a brilliant game against Gila Ridge at home on Thursday.
But Hawk junior ace Victor Castro was even better.
Both pitchers kept the game scoreless heading into the ninth inning, but Gila Ridge finally broke it open and held on for a 5-2 win in extra innings.
Castro pitched all nine innings, giving up four hits and struck out 12 on 106 pitches to improve to 4-0 on the season while Camacho pitched 8-2/3 innings and gave up nine hits — six in the ninth inning — and struck out four on 105 pitches in the loss. Neither pitcher allowed a runner to reach third base until the final inning.
“I told the kids whoever makes the play or makes a mistake or whatever was going to decide the game. It got down to the end and we finally put a couple of hits together and made some plays,” Gila Ridge coach Greg Osowski said. “Not that they did anything wrong — Manny pitched an awesome game. We just finally got a couple runs across.”
“Castro is always ahead. We preach to our pitchers to get ahead and stay down in the zone and that's exactly what he does,” Kofa coach Richy Leon said.
Castro, who plays on the same traveling team as Camacho, had a perfect game going until the fifth — before a throwing error by Gila Ridge third baseman Raul Fernandez — and a no-hitter until Josh Morales singled to center field in the bottom of the seventh.
“You got to help your pitcher out defensively and offensively. We knew he was pitching a no-hitter until the seventh inning,” said Gila Ridge senior Irving Lopez, who went 1 for 4 and had an RBI single to left field to start Gila Ridge's five-run ninth inning.
The Hawks (10-1 overall, 7-0 in power-point games) finally broke the game when they loaded the bases on a single by Zach Taylor, a chopping infield single by Bobby Mena and a walk by Omar Ortega. Then the floodgates opened up.
Lopez hit an RBI single, Austin Browning smacked a sac fly to right, Castro hit a two-run single and Fernandez hit an RBI single to right-center to end Camacho's night.
“We knew that was our only chance and we had to take it. We can't let that chance go away. We had to take it no matter what,” Lopez said.
“(Camacho) battles so much,” Leon said. “He got out of the eighth relatively easy so in retrospect we could have (pulled him before the ninth) but it was his ballgame.”
Kofa (3-7, 0-2) made a last-ditch effort in the bottom half of the ninth when Morales doubled in Miguel Rosas and George Cordova hit an RBI groundout to first. But Castro came up with his 12th strikeout against Martin Gomez to end the night.
“That's the first time he went the whole game and he ended up going nine innings,” Osowski said of Castro. “We had somebody up, if it would have boiled down to it — you never want to pull the guy because he's pitching a great game and you want to let him finish it. I knew if I went out there, the look in his eye wouldn't have been a good one.”
The Kings defense turned three double plays — including one in the top of the eighth when center fielder Miguel Rosas caught a fly ball then threw it to shortstop Matthew Valdez at second base to double-off Castro.
“Manny, what can you say about his pitching performance and our guys up the middle were making plays,” Leon said. “It was a fun thing to be a part of. Hopefully we can build upon this.”
Kofa's best chance at a win against Castro came in the bottom of the eighth when Alexis Ortega drew a walk and got to second on a passed ball. Pinch-hitting in the No. 9 spot, Ian Miranda fouled off sixth straight pitches — including one that blooped over Gila Ridge first baseman Hayato Johnson and landed just foul.
“I saw it tailing and I thought, thank God. Then I thought, all right let's do this,” Castro said.
Castro followed by striking out Miranda to end the inning.
“Coming off the bench and having arguably the best at-bat,” Leon said. “He battled and battled and hopefully we can build on that. I told him that you don't want to strike out on that and you want the ball to be fair, but that was a heck of an at-bat.”
“It looked like it was fair so I was already jumping up, I was already out of dugout,” Camacho said of Miranda's foul ball. “But it missed by a little bit. It was so close.”