Bulldogs stumble in finale

May 18, 2001|By TOM RONCO, (Special to this newspaper)

BRAWLEY — The final Imperial Valley League baseball game of the season for the Brawley Union and the Calexico high school teams should have been dominated by the starting pitchers.

Yet neither Brawley's Calvin Williams nor Calexico's Diego Lopez made it out of the second inning. The lead changed hands eight times and Brawley scored in the bottom of the eighth inning to squeeze out an 9-8 victory here Thursday.

"Today it's a great feeling because we have come back before but today we became a cohesive unit," said Brawley coach Pedro Carranza on Thursday. "There was not one selfish play."

"This was a great game for both sides," said Calexico coach Sergio Rubio. "Neither side gave up and each team just kept coming back."


Matt Sauceda opened the game with base hit for Calexico and stole second. Williams then uncorked two wild pitches, allowing Sauceda to score.

Down 1-0 in the first, Brawley's Joel Aguirre tripled and David Santana walked and promptly stole second. Andy Buckner followed with an RBI single to tie the game 1-1.

"Coach put me in the No. 4 position today because I have been putting in extra time on my batting and I was hoping to come through for him," said Buckner.

Brandon Burnett's sacrifice fly scored Santana to give the Wildcats the 2-1 lead.

In the top of the second, Damien Lopez singled, Diego Galvan walked and Zeke Gutierrez doubled to center scoring Lopez for Calexico to tie the game at 2-2.

Catcher Eric Fimbres flared a single to score both Galvan and Gutierrez and put the Bulldogs up 4-2.

In the Brawley second, a pitch hit Matt Smith and Dominic Aguirre followed with a single. Diego Lopez then balked the runners to second and third for Mitchell Ruiz, whose sacrifice fly scored Smith.

Joel Aguirre then got his second hit, a RBI single to right, to tie the game 4-4.

Santana got aboard on an error scoring Aguirre to give Brawley a 5-4 lead, prompting Rubio to bring in Wong to pitch.

"It's the first time I've pitched this year," said Wong. "But I warmed up and I really wanted to help win this game."

"Diego did not have his good stuff and Chris did a good job for us," said Rubio.

In the top of the third, Williams issued consecutive walks and was replaced by Carranza with Javier Calles, who induced Damien Lopez to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Gutierrez got aboard in the fourth for Calexico on a passed ball and tied the score 5-5 on Albert Garcia's single. The Bulldogs then reclaimed the lead on Pedro Cazares' RBI double.

Brawley's Ruiz opened the bottom of the fourth with a double and scored on a single by Buckner to make the score 6-6.

In the top of the fifth, Wong doubled and Juan Lopez walked, but a smash off the bat of Damien Lopez was speared by Romo, who tagged Wong and then threw out Lopez at first.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Buckner walked and Calles drilled a double scoring Buckner to give the Wildcats a 7-6 lead.

With one out in the top of the seventh, Diego Lopez launched a Calles' pitch over the left field fence to tie the game at 7-7.

Wong followed with a single, then Juan Lopez singled and when Damien Lopez's soft fly ball kicked up chalk on the left field line, Wong scored to give Calexico an 8-7 lead.

Brawley rallied in the bottom of the seventh as pinch hitter Chris Ramirez singled and David Santana's two-out RBI single scored Ramirez to tie the game at 8-8.

Dominic Aguirre, who had replaced Calles on the mound in the seventh, retired Calexico in order in the eighth.

Juan Lopez took the hill for Calexico in the bottom of the eighth and walked Buckner. With pinch hitter Curtis Smith at the plate, Buckner stole second and went to third on Smith's ground out.

Rubio then had Williams intentionally walked to set up a double play.

Romo hit a hard smash to third and Buckner headed for home. The throw glanced off catcher Diego Lopez's glove, allowing Buckner to score the winning run.

"I just wanted to put the ball in play and make them make the play," said Romo.

Tempers flew on the Calexico side after Buckner scored the winning run.

"I want to apologize to the fans at the game for the actions of my players," said Rubio. "That is not what I teach and is not what Calexico baseball is all about."

The Imperial Valley League champions Calexico finishes the year 16-10, 11-1 IVL. Brawley wraps things up at 15-9, 10-2.

Both teams will learn of their playoff matchups at the San Diego Section seeding meeting Saturday.

Central 8, Southwest 7

The Central Union High School baseball team ended its season with an 8-7 win over Southwest here Thursday.

Humberto Cardenas picked up the win for the Spartans, who led 8-0 going into the seventh inning. Southwest stormed back to score seven runs against Matt Baker, who had relieved Cardenas in the fifth. Cardenas returned to get the final outs and end the game.

Manuel Ponce led the Spartan offense with three hits. Baker had two hits, an RBI and a run. Andy Vazquez had two hits and Victor Cesena had a hit and two RBIs for Central.

Central finishes the year 12-10-1, 7-5 IVL. The Eagles conclude their season at 11-13, 7-5 IVL.

The teams will learn of their playoff fates Saturday.

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