El Centro opens tourney with win

July 10, 2001|By JON HINSHAW, Sports Writer

For nine complete innings the Sunset and El Centro all-star teams battled to a 2-2 tie in the 14-year-old Babe Ruth District 7 tournament's opening round at Stark Field in El Centro on Monday.

Things changed in the top of the 10th frame, however, as El Centro grew tired of the pitching-dominated game. Using four hits, a walk and a hit batter, El Centro broke through for five runs in the inning to claim a 7-2 victory.

David McShan earned the victory in three innings of relief for El Centro after starting pitcher Mario Meza turned in seven innings. Meza held Sunset — a squad made up of players from Calexico and Holtville — to two hits and struck out 12. McShan allowed two hits and struck out four while on the mound.

"We just didn't hit," said Sunset coach Julie Velasco. "Jose Nuñez (Sunset's starting pitcher) pitched a great game as well, but we couldn't get our offense going behind him. It wasn't a lack of practice, we just got into a big game and didn't hit."


El Centro was in the same non-hitting predicament against Nuñez early on, except for a two-run single by Tyler Martin. Nuñez matched Meza's seven innings, allowing five hits and striking out five before giving way to Josh Patton.

Martin's RBIs in the top of the fourth frame gave El Centro what seemed like a comfortable 2-0 lead behind Meza. Even when Sunset broke through for a run in bottom of the fifth El Centro seemed unnerved. In the bottom of the sixth, Sunset's Adrian Corroles scored on an error to knot the game.

The game remained tied after the first two extra innings as McShan and Patton exchanged scoreless innings. Patton's fastball down the middle of the plate baffled El Centro's hitters the first time through the lineup, but after they saw it once they began to hit.

"The boys were really quiet," said El Centro coach Mario Meza, "especially in the 5-6-7 spots. They were due to come through and we knew if they started hitting the rest of our lineup could come through as well."

With one out in the 10th inning Gustavo Roman rapped his fourth hit, a double into centerfield, and No. 5 hitter Tyler Martin was hit by a pitch putting two runners on. Joe Vasquez, the No. 6 hitter, came through with an RBI single to give El Centro the lead 3-2.

"We really got on each other coming into the innings about concentrating and hitting the ball," said Vasquez. "We hit a couple early on and that got us going."

After Vasquez's second hit of the game, El Centro pushed across four more runs. McShan singled to drive in Martin and Vasquez and, following a walk to Jack Fleming, leadoff hitter Randy Andrews singled to score McShan. An error in the infield on the play also allowed Fleming to score for a 7-2 lead before Patton was able to stop the bleeding.

Sunset retaliated in the bottom of the frame by putting two runners on with one out, but McShan struck out the final two batters to close the game.

"It's an all-star tournament and we expect to play good games against good players," said coach Meza. "We expect good, close games the rest of the way, so I was very proud of the way the kids came through."

The victory puts El Centro back on the diamond tonight at 6 for a game against Northend, which is made up of players from Brawley, Calipatria and Westmorland. Sunset will have a day off before playing the loser of that game at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

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