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Sidewinders give Gila Ridge first loss of the year in 11 inning thriller
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2B: Gila Ridge, Nubes, Johnson. San Luis, A. Bazua, Urquides. RBI: Gila Ridge, Mena. San Luis, Aguilar, Urquides. SB: Gila Ridge, Mena, Jaime. WP: Aguilar (3-1) LP: Jaime (2-1)
It took a marathon game to do it, but Alejandro Aguilar and the San Luis baseball team did something that no team has done in the regular season this year.
They beat Gila Ridge.
Aguilar pitched three innings of relief and hit a walk-off RBI single for the Sidewinders in their thrilling 2-1 victory in 11 innings Monday afternoon at San Luis.
“When I saw the second baseman jump and he didn't get it, I just thought it's over,” said Jonathan Bazua, who scored on Aguilar's line-drive single to right field. “We knew we were going to face a good pitcher and a team that hasn't lost the entire season, so that was really motivating for us to win this game.”
“This is playoff baseball — both sides,” San Luis coach Cesar Castillo said. “We both played solid baseball. We had a few miscues but nobody took advantage of the miscues, and we just stayed with it.”
The previously unbeaten Hawks (11-1, No. 3 in Division II power points) tied the game 1-1 in the top of the seventh on a two-out RBI single up the middle by junior Bobby Mena off relief pitcher Fernando Fimbres and the two teams battled for five more innings.
San Luis, playing in its only game of the week, used a committee of pitchers to keep the Hawks' bats to five hits on the day. Sophomore Jerry Ochoa scattered two hits in four scoreless innings, Alexander Bazua pitched two scoreless innings, Fimbres added two more innings before Aguilar came on for three hitless innings of relief for the win.
“Every guy gave us big innings to stay in the ballgame,” Castillo said. “They put the ball in play, we played defense and that was the ultimate thing. If we didn't play defense, we wouldn't have won the ballgame.
“I hate to lose, we all hate to lose, but I just think we didn't swing the bat very well today,” Gila Ridge coach Greg Osowski said. “They executed a few times that we didn't.”
The Hawks had runners in scoring position in five of the first six innings — including having runners reach third base four times.
“I told them, they had their opportunities and they didn't take advantage of them,” Osowski said. “That's what happens.”
The Sidewinders (9-3, No. 24 in Division I power points) picked up their first run of the game when sophomore Jesus Urquides ripped a double to left field off Gila Ridge starter Irving Lopez in the second inning to score Aguilar.
Lopez calmed down after the second, finishing eight innings of two-hit ball with four strikeouts.
“You feel bad for him because he went out there and scrapped,” Osowski said. “Again, he had that one little lull then he just turns it on. The guy's pitched outstanding for his team.”
Marco Jaime picked up his first loss of the year, allowing four hits in 2 1/3 innings of work for the Hawks.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Mena hit a diving line drive off Alexander Bazua that bounced past San Luis center fielder Hector Valenzuela and rolled deep into the outfield. Mena rounded third and headed home when left fielder Jorge Duarte hit his cutoff man, shortstop Fimbres, who delivered a strike at home to Urquides in enough time to tag Mena out to end the inning.
“Obviously a turning point of the game. They would have tied it and it's a different ball game,” Castillo said. “Every little thing we've done in practice showed today.”
“Bobby's one of our quicker guys,” Osowski said. “I'm just thinking, we're not executing and there's two outs anyways, I might as well give him a shot. Tip your hat to them, but you have to take that shot.”
After Mena's RBI single tied it in the seventh, neither team got a runner to third base until the bottom of the 11th — when Jonathan Bazua was hit by a pitch to start the inning, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Duarte and went to third on a single to right by Alexander Bazua.
Then Aguilar came to the plate.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior sent a 3-0 pitch over the head of Gila Ridge second baseman Raul Fernandez to give the Hawks their first blemish of the regular season.
“We're not going sit and cry that we lost a game because we knew it would happen,” Osowski said. “There's too good of teams out here to continue to think we're just going to beat them all.”