"An error, a walk and a hit hurts you in a one-run ball game," Spartan coach David Middleton said. "We knew it would be tight because there were two good pitchers out there on the mound today."
Rapp's Greg Maddux-like performance drew the most attention as he tossed three 1-2-3 innings and used his defense to hold down Central.
"What really helped was that I just was hitting the spots that my catcher (David Cordova) called," said Rapp, who had one of his team's three hits. "The credit goes to our defense. They really played well and it gives us a lot of confidence."
The Spartans were only able to advance one player past first base, when Eagle left fielder David Herrera lost sight of what would have been the game's final out off the bat of Spartan Enrique Lechuga. While Rapp canceled the error with a strikeout of Raul Cazares to end the game, Southwest took advantage of a Central error in the third frame that proved the difference.
After Cardenas struck out Southwest leadoff man Brandon Armendariz, Eric Flores got aboard via an error by Spartan second baseman Jose Ibarra. Cardenas then walked Herrera to put runners on first and second and gave up an RBI single to Ricky Lopez. Cardenas went right back to work by getting the next two hitters, but the damage had been done.
"Humberto has just been on the losing end of the stick all season," said Middleton. "It seems like every time we lose a game by one run he's on the mound. We couldn't hit the ball well today and the little mistakes cost us the game."
Added Eagle coach Mickey Carter, "That was really it … an error, a walk and a hit. We had a couple opportunities early on when we had the bases loaded and nobody out, but you have to give credit to Humberto for getting his team out of it."
The pitchers combined to allow just four runners to reach base in the final four frames, but the pressure was on the Spartans and Rapp was in control. In the final innings Rapp may have been at his best as he induced four pop-outs, three fly-ball outs and three ground-ball outs. He also had two strikeouts in the final frame.
"He had good command," Carter said of his ace. "His breaking ball was down and he threw it for strikes. His performance and our defense proved a big confidence-builder for us today."
Southwest (9-9-1 overall) finishes the first half of the Imperial Valley League season 5-1, second behind Calexico (6-0), which beat Brawley 4-0 at home Wednesday. The Eagles open the second half at Brawley at 4:15 p.m. Friday.
The Spartans (8-9-1) fell to 3-3 in the IVL and will host Calexico at the same time and date.
Calexico 4, Brawley 0
CALEXICO — Diego Lopez used just 91 pitches to shut out Brawley Union High School here Wednesday in a 4-0 Calexico High win.
Lopez yielded just two hits and struck out eight, including getting himself out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the sixth frame.
Enok Madrigal came off the bench in the sixth inning and provided his squad with its biggest hit. Madrigal capped a three-run inning with a two-run double. Juan Lopez added an RBI single in the inning.
Diego Lopez got Calexico on the board in the third frame with an RBI double that scored Chris Wong.
Calexico improved to 6-0 in the IVL.
"It still doesn't mean much," Bulldog coach Sergio Rubio said. "We still have a lot of baseball to play. A couple teams are just a game or two behind and we can't let up.
"We played excellent defense today," added Rubio, whose squad is 12-9 overall. "Diego was on, but our defense really picked up and led us to victory."
Joel Aguirre and Andy Burnett had one hit each for the Wildcats, who fell to 4-2 in the IVL.