"You have to give credit to Central for coming back on us. But I think you have to give even more credit to us," said Calexico coach Sergio Rubio. "After they took the lead our guys could've laid down and let them win. But we didn't and our kids did a good job of responding."
Despite giving up seven runs, Cardenas had four strikeouts and held Calexico scoreless in three innings.
"For some reason he's had our number the past few years," said Rubio of Cardenas. "Before the game we talked about being aggressive and not letting him get ahead of us in the count. We were aggressive early and jumped out to a lead. And that was the difference."
Cardenas' counterpart on the mound was Diego Lopez, who pitched 6 1/3 innings and struck out 10. Lopez looked dominating early, shutting out the Spartans through five frames and only allowing two hits.
As Lopez's pitch count grew, the Central offense began to rally.
"I think I was out there too long. I just ran out of gas," said Lopez, who finished 1-for-4 with an RBI at the plate. "Before the game my arm was hurting a little and I started to feel it again late in the game."
The sixth inning was where things started to turn south for Lopez. With a runner on first, Jose Ibarra tripled off Lopez, scoring Matt Baker to make the score 4-1 Ibarra scored on an error, cutting the deficit to two runs at 4-2.
Things didn't get any easier for Lopez in the seventh as a Ruben Guzman lead-off bunt set the tone. Lopez then showed signs of weariness, walking two of the next three batters.
With the bases loaded, Enrique Lechuga connected on a shot to the gap in left center. Accompanied by an overthrow, Lechuga cleared the bases and scored himself to give the Spartans their first lead.
After the four runs, the Calexico bullpen got the team out of the inning.
While Cardenas officially goes down as the losing pitcher, Central coach Dave Middleton said the difference wasn't his team's pitching but its offense.
"We just didn't hit the ball well. Sure, we had one really good inning where we hit the ball, but other than that we didn't do much offensively," said Middleton. "I just think our bats came alive too late."
Both teams play at 3:15 p.m. Friday with Central (2-5 overall) hosting Cibola. Calexico (7-4 overall) will travel to Blythe to take on Palo Verde.
Southwest 7, Brawley 4
The Southwest High School baseball team kicked off Imperial Valley League action with a 7-4 win over Brawley Union High in El Centro on Tuesday.
After falling in a 3-0 hole, Southwest answered with six runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Leading the Eagle offense were George Rapp and Eric Flores, both going 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Rapp got the win after pitching 2 1/3 innings, striking out two and giving up two hits. Justin Araujo added a solo home run for Southwest.
For Brawley, Mitchell Ruiz went 2-for-2 with two runs and a stolen base and Curtis Smith finished 2-for-4 with a run.
Said Southwest coach Mickey Carter: "This was pretty much a total team effort. Eight of our starters finished with at least one hit and they all just played a really good game."
Both teams play Friday, with the Wildcats (0-1 IVL) hosting Holtville at 3:15 p.m. and Southwest (1-0 IVL) playing at Imperial at 7 p.m.
Imperial 9, Holtville 1
IMPERIAL — The Imperial High School baseball team ripped Holtville 9-1 to open IVL play here Tuesday.
Bryan Seeger picked up the win for the Tigers. He pitched six innings and struck out five.
Brett Cochran had a hit and scored two runs for the Tigers. Chris Mazeroll had a hit and two RBI's and D.J. Hastings had a hit and two RBI's for Imperial.
Both teams return to action Friday. The Tigers will host Southwest at 7 p.m. Holtville will be at Brawley at 3:15 p.m.