Perez pitches Spartans into semis

May 23, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

The way Maria Hansen-Perez pitched Tuesday, she may well have had the team from San Diego's Academy of Our Lady of Peace thinking about a conversion.

The Central Union High hurler held the Pilots to two hits and one unearned run as she struck out nine to lead the Spartans to a 6-1 win in the San Diego Section Division III playoffs.

"Maria pitched an excellent game," said Central coach Sandy Montalvo. "She was on and she was very hungry."

For two innings Pilot hurler Jessica Marsoen matched Perez perfect inning for perfect inning.

The Spartans (21-5) got the game's first base runner in the third when Marissa Guzman reached on an error. Guzman took second on a ground ball and took third on a wild pitch but could not score.

After Perez pitched a flawless fourth, the Spartan offense finally got going.

Claudia Maldonado led off the inning with a single. She took second on a wild pitch. Marsoen settled down momentarily, striking out Jennifer Ramirez and forcing Perez to hit into a ground-out that moved Maldonado to third. With two outs Cami Grundman delivered a line-drive single to center that plated Maldonado and gave the Spartans a one-run lead.


Perez allowed OLP its lone run in the fifth, but with the game tied at 1-1, the Central bats exploded on Marsoen. Utilizing just two hits and a walk, the Spartans put five runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth to seal the win.

"We had prepared for (Marsoen)," said Montalvo, who had scouted the Pilots in their first-round win over Crawford on Saturday. "The heat is a difference. She had a lot more velocity Saturday. We had prepared for a little more quickness."

Guzman, whose error in the fifth inning had allowed Our Lady's lone run, led off the fifth with a single for Central.

"She bobbled that ball and then came back to score the run," Montalvo said of her center fielder. "If there was anybody I would have wanted to lead off that inning it would have been her."

Rachel Montalvo followed Guzman by reaching on an error after she laid down a bunt. Guzman reached third on the play and Central had runners on the corners with no outs.

Marsoen recovered to strike out the Spartans next hitter before walking Clarissa Maldonado to load the bases. Central's Claudia Maldonado then hit a routine ground ball to short. Shortstop Kirsten Wilson came up with the ball cleanly but when she tried to get Guzman at the plate her throw sailed past OLP's catcher and into the backstop. Guzman and Montalvo scored on the play, putting Central up 3-1.

Jennifer Ramirez followed with a two-run double to center. Ramirez then took third on a Perez ground-out and came in to score on another Marsoen wild pitch.

Perez guarded her five-run cushion closely, allowing just one hit in the final two innings and striking out three of seven hitters.

"They were hungry today," Montalvo added of her team. "Each goal we've set, we've attained."

Next up for the Spartans is a date with the tournament's No. 2 seed, University of San Diego High School. The teams will meet in a semifinal matchup at 5 p.m. Thursday at Kit Carson Park in Escondido. Montalvo thinks her team will be ready.

"I'm very happy with our defense," she said. "Our offense is still struggling, but it's coming along. We have to work hard tomorrow and see what happens on Thursday."

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