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Northend claims crown

July 09, 2001|By JON HINSHAW,Sports Writer

BRAWLEY — It took two games and nearly six hours of baseball before the Northend all-star team was crowned victorious in the 13-year-old Babe Ruth District 7 tournament here Sunday.

The Northend team, made up of players from Brawley and Calipatria, lost its first opportunity to claim the title when it lost 10-7 to Sunset, made up of players from Calexico and Holtville. Both teams, each with one loss in the double-elimination tournament, squared off for a final game in which Northend won 9-7.

"Our kids never gave up," said Northend coach Julio Baeza. "They really showed what they were made of."

What Baeza's squad was made of was timely hitting and pitching. In the final game Northend took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth inning with a two-run single by Michael Mohamed and a two-run triple by Mitchell Amidon. Daniel Paramo then came in and shut down Sunset in the final three innings, allowing only two hits and a walk.

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"We hustled a lot more and saw the ball better in that second game," said Amidon, who was 4-for-4 with two walks, four runs and five RBIs in the two-game final. "We knew we were going to come back and everybody believed in it."

Like Northend in the first game, Sunset staked a 2-0 lead in the second game and looked to continue its hitting against Northend starter Justin Baeza. Northend had other plans, however, as it came back strong in the bottom of the first.

Baeza was the first to score, popping up a sacrifice fly with a runner on in the inning. His team went on to score four more in the first, taking a 5-2 lead. Northends' Cesar Hernandez and Johnny Vista also picked up RBIs in the frame.

Sunset scored three runs in the top of the third to tie the game. Three errors by Northend allowed Emmanuel Herrero, George Rodriguez and Adam Avila to score. Sunset then took a 7-5 lead in the top of the fourth on another Northend error and an RBI single by Avila, one of his four base hits in the game.

As Sunset began to take control of the second game, Northend started to hit, something the team had not done in the previous game.

"We were a little tired after we came back," said Sunset pitcher Mike Fregoso, "and they were confident they were going to win."

That confidence showed in the bottom of the fourth as Northend had five consecutive hits against Sunset reliever Frank Lugo. With two outs and a man on base, a Baeza single started a rally. Mohamed knotted the game with a two-run base knock, scoring Martin Mohamed and Baeza. With a runner on base, Nickolaus Swing then singled to put two runners back on base and Amidon came through with a base-clearing triple to deep left field for a 9-7 lead.

The contest took a sharp turn in the final two-and-a-half innings as both teams stepped up their pitching. Paramo held down Sunset with a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth and worked his way

out of a two-runners-on-and-one-out scenario in the sixth. Sunset's Lugo came back strong in fifth and sixth innings, sitting down Northend to keep Sunset's deficit at two.

Northend's Paramo gave up a single to Avila to lead off the sixth inning bringing the tying run to the plate for Sunset. Avila stole second to put himself in scoring position. Paramo next struck out Orlando Alvarez for the first out, then Lugo grounded out for the second, which moved Avila to third base. Down to its final out, Sunset sent Joe Niebla to the plate. He hit what looked like a possible single into right field until Northend's Eric Rodriguez came running in for the grab.

"Our little errors and the fact we were lagging a bit really hurt us," said Sunset coach Frank Alvarez. "Playing two games in one day is tough and the kids were a little tired. Northend played with a lot of heart, but

we'll be back next year and we'll get them back."

Baeza earned the win for Northend with four innings pitched and Paramo picked up the save. The next stop for Northend is the 13-year-old state tournament starting at 6 p.m. July 20 at Stark Field in El Centro when Northend faces Simi Valley.

"We're going to just keep working on our game overall," said coach Julio Baeza. "We think we can do just as good in that tournament as we did in this one. We teach our kids to take it one game at a time and we'll see what happens in a couple weeks."

In the game of the championship double-header, Sunset's Joe Niebla picked up the victory, going five innings. Avila earned the save.

Four errors by Northend led to it's game one downfall, with three errors coming in a six-run third inning for Sunset. While Sunset didn't get a hit in the frame, Northend miscues combined with four walks and seven steals brought the game to 6-2.

Northend closed the gap to within one on two occasions, but Sunset held them off.

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