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Sunset stops Northend 9-4

July 15, 2001|By JON HINSHAW, Sports Writer

CALEXICO — After the Sunset 13-15-year-old Babe Ruth all-stars took a pounding against El Centro on Friday in the opening round of the District 7 tournament they weren't about to let the same thing happen again Saturday against Northend.

Sunset — composed of players from Calexico and Holtville — made sure of that by jumping to a 9-1 lead before Northend could get their bats going, eventually taking the game 9-4 and eliminating Northend from the double-elimination event.

"We wanted to continue in this tournament," said Sunset starting pitcher Jorge Lluis. "We tried to improve our batting and defense after Friday's game and we did that tonight."

While Lluis and his teammates got the job done at the plate, Lluis was getting it done on the mound. Lluis struck out eight Northend batters, yielded seven hits and gave up no earned runs.

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"All the hard work I've done in the past two weeks really showed in this game for me," added Lluis.

Lluis did his best work in the third, fourth and fifth innings as his offense began to erupt in the top of the third frame. With the score tied 1-1, Sunset loaded the bases with one out for Eric Strahm who followed with a sacrifice fly scoring Adrian Sanchez. Strahm's RBI was followed by a two-run single by Eric Flores to push the lead to 4-1.

Lluis knocked down the Northend side in order in the bottom half of the inning, thanks in part to a double play, and Sunset went right back to work.

Northend starting pitcher Jesse Soto walked two hitters and gave up a single to load the bases again in the fourth. With one out Soto then walked Eric Vargas to drive in a run and Billy Huyler followed with a groundout to make the score 6-1. Northend misplayed the ball after making the out, however, and Sanchez also came around to score for a 7-1.

"We started playing good and starting hitting the ball and that gave us the confidence to win," said Vargas, who had a single and two walks. "Against El Centro we got down early and lost our confidence. We wanted to do the opposite tonight."

Lluis followed the stream of offense with two more quick innings of work in the fourth and fifth frames. He struck out three and didn't allow a runner to advance past third base. Lluis' offense, meanwhile, added two more runs to the lead with one each in the fifth and sixth innings.

Northend — made up of players from Calipatria and Brawley — ended their scoring drought in the bottom of the sixth inning after Soto and Joe Parga singled to lead it off. Two errors during the next at-bat allowed Soto and Parga to come around and score and Thomas Cox took second base on the miscues. Cox then scored two batters later on a double steal to make the score 9-4.

"That was our problem in both our games," said Northend coach Richard Singh, referring to his team's lack of hitting until it was too late. "A couple of hits for us in the opening innings could have changed this game around and I told the team that they had to forget about yesterday's loss (5-0 to Imperial). We just had a few mistakes today and it cost us."

The victory places Sunset back in the hunt for the District 7 championship, but they must first go through Imperial, who lost to El Centro 15-5 on Saturday. Their game is set to begin at 7 tonight with the winner going on to play El Centro at 6 p.m. Monday.

"Tradition was the obstacle we faced against El Centro in the first round," said Sunset coach Joe Buchanan, who added his squad has always had trouble with El Centro. "It was all mental. We came back tonight because it was mental as well except this time we knew we could overcome Northend. Now we need it to carry over to the next game for a shot at the championship."

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