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Imperial rallies past El Centro

July 11, 2001|By TIM YANNI, Sports Writer

SEELEY — It took an extra inning, but Imperial managed to come from behind and top El Centro 13-11 in the District 22 Little League 11-12-year-old tournament here Tuesday.

Michael Nisperos was Imperial's hero as he smacked a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Imperial the win.

"It felt good," Nisperos said of hitting the winning homer. "Our whole team fought together and we came back."

Came back is almost an understatement as it looked as if El Centro had clinched the game early on.

El Centro went up 3-0 after one half inning as Ricardo Beltran scored on an error that saw Mario Maldonado reach second base.

Maldonado was driven in by Angel Quintero with an RBI single. Quintero scored when Nisperos, who started the game as Imperial's pitcher, walked Teddy Whitcomb with the bases loaded.

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Imperial answered in the bottom of the first. Spencer Drury walked and stole second and third. He scored on a Brock Moove ground out, making the score 3-1.

El Centro increased its lead in the second when Beltran scored on a Quintero RBI. Maldonado and Quintero scored on errors and the inning ended with El Centro up 6-1.

Trailing 8-1, Imperial closed in on El Centro in the third. Gabriel Item scored on an error and Moove scored on a wild pitch to pull the score to 8-3.

Proving no lead was safe, Imperial managed to tie the game in the fourth. Royce Culp led off the inning with a home run and Russell Havens scored on an error. Drury found his way home on a wild pitch and Item scored when Nisperos was thrown out at first. Victor Martinez tied the game at 8-8 when he drove in Moove. El Centro relief pitcher Jesse Lopez struck out Valentin Gonzalez to end the Imperial rally.

El Centro regained the lead in the fifth when Lopez hit a home run and Ricky Viesca drove in Maldonado with a single.

Ryan Gorrido plated Viesca and El Centro finished the inning with a comfortable 11-8 lead.

In the sixth, Moove came in to pitch for Imperial. After walking Chris Rosas and giving up a single to Rigo Fernandez, Moove retired the next three batters in order to finish the inning without giving up any runs.

The extra inning was forced in the bottom of the sixth when Jeff Cabrera drove in Moove with a single and Havens drove in Daniel Deen and Martinez with a two-run double.

In the seventh, Havens came in to relieve and struck out Maldonado before walking Jerri Acevedo, Garrido, and Whitcomb to load the bases. Havens kept his composure, however, and struck out Gonzalez and Culp to end the half-inning.

Item was hit by a Lopez pitch in the bottom of the inning, but was thrown out at second when Moove hit into a fielder's choice.

Nisperos then stepped to the plate and ended the game with the two-run blast.

Imperial coach Alfred Moove said he was proud of his team for pulling off the comeback.

"We have a pretty good hitting lineup," Alfred Moove said. "So we always had a chance to come back."

Alfred Moove said he told his team not to give up and they kept their heads in the game and went on to claim victory.

"I could feel the momentum," Alfred Moove said. He added that he felt the game was in reach when his team pulled to within 8-6.

Imperial will next face Sunbeam in Seeley tonight at 7:30.

El Centro will next play against the loser of the Brawley-Holtville game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

In other action Tuesday night, J.R. Carrillo blasted a three-run home run to lead Brawley to a 7-2 win over Seaview and Holtville beat Calexico 3-1. Jose Villareal, Javier Fregoso and James Bentley all scored for Holtville.

Brawley and Holtville will meet at 7:30 tonight in a winner's bracket game. Seaview and Calexico will play at 5:30 tonight in an elimination game. Both games will be played in Seeley.

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