El Centro claims 14-year-old Babe Ruth title

July 13, 2001|By JON HINSHAW, Sports Writer

As the El Centro 14-year-old all-stars took the field in El Centro on Thursday night against Sunset, a recall of Monday's 10-inning affair had to be going through their minds.

This time around more than a first-round game was at stake. This time it was for the District 7 championship and a trip to the state finals in Simi Valley.

This time, instead of a pitcher's duel, El Centro broke out in front of Sunset in regulation and cruised to a 7-2 victory. El Centro finished with a 3-0 record in the double-elimination tournament and the 14-year-old title.

"They wanted to go to the state tournament and they knew they could do it," El Centro coach Mario Meza said. "It was a team effort, they did everything well. They wanted to win and they worked together."


Six different players scored for El Centro with six runs coming across home plate in the bottom of the fourth inning. David McShan, who earned the first victory against Sunset on Monday, also garnered a win by going four innings. McShan yielded three hits and struck out four.

Tyler Martin followed McShan's opening with three innings of work, allowing two hits and striking out two to preserve the win.

"My arm was feeling really good and I knew if they got a hit I had a good defense behind me," said McShan. "We wanted to keep them down. We didn't want them to get ahead of us, forcing us to fight back. We wanted to do that to them and that's how we won."

Gustavo Roman and Mario Meza were again the bats that drove the El Centro offense. Roman, who was selected the team's most valuable player, completed an 11-for-13 campaign in the tournament with two doubles and a run scored in the title game. Meza added a two-run single and drove across the game's first run on a groundout.

Sunset — composed of players from Calexico and Holtville — knotted the game 1-1 in the top of the third when McShan walked Emilio Moreno with the bases loaded scoring Adrian Corrales. The tight, fast-paced game broke open in the bottom of the next frame when Sunset's defense fell apart.

Roman led off the inning with a double and scored when Joe Vasquez reached base on an error. Vince Torres then singled to put two runners on. Jose Nuñez, Sunset's starting pitcher, momentarily erased El Centro's thoughts of a big inning when he got the next two hitters out, but a walk to Jack Fleming loaded the bases.

Nuñez then enticed Randy Andrews into a ground ball to shortstop Humberto Covarrubias, but the ball got away, allowing Vasquez to score for a 3-1 lead. Edgar Marquez also hit into what looked like a groundout, but Sunset first baseman Adrian Corrales couldn't hold onto the throw. The error allowed Torres and Fleming to score. Meza then singled home Andrews and Marquez to go ahead 7-1.

"We had a bad inning," said Sunset coach Julie Velasco. "Our bats weren't too bad, but that inning really hurt us. We were just throwing the ball away on little misplays."

Two innings later it appeared Sunset was going to recoup the runaway frame by loading the bases with no outs. Singles by Henry Valdez and Josh Angulo, in addition to Martin hitting Nuñez, gave Corrales the perfect chance to garner some runs.

Corrales pushed one across on a fielder's choice, making the score 7-2, but Martin struck out Javy Valdez and got Curt Snyder to pop out. Martin followed up in the top of the seventh by retiring the side in order.

"I guess we got a little nervous after all those errors," said Moreno. "We faced some pretty good pitchers and they were left-handed. They're hard to hit."

With the District 7 title in hand, El Centro will next travel to the state tournament in Simi Valley, which is slated to begin on July 20.

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