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Northend pounds La Cañada 10-6

July 22, 2001|By JON HINSHAW, Sports Writer

The 13-year-old Northend all-star team flexed its muscles for the second night in a row in El Centro on Saturday as it powered from behind for a 10-6 victory over La Cañada to move two games away from the Babe Ruth state championship.

Northend — composed of players from Brawley and Calipatria — earned its second win in two games behind a seven-run sixth inning. In the tournament's opening round Friday, Northend exploded for 15 runs in the first three innings to down Simi Valley 15-4 at Stark Field.

Leading the attack for Northend on Saturday were the team's fourth and fifth hitters, Michael Mohamed and Mitchell Amidon. Mohamed and Amidon combined for four RBI, three hits and two walks to help Northend come from a 6-3 deficit.

"We had some errors and we weren't hitting well early on," said Mohamed, "but we knew if we could hit the ball we could score. We started feeling it after a couple of hits and we knew we could win. We weren't going to give them anything after the sixth inning."

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Coming into the sixth frame Northend had managed just one hit against La Cañada starting pitcher David Hopkins. Its only offense came from a run-scoring balk in the initial inning and Mohamed's two-run single in the third after a pair of errors by La Cañada.

Hopkins cruised along against Northend as his squad pushed runs across in the first, second and fifth innings. La Cañada's big frame was in the bottom of the fifth against Northend starter Justin Baeza. Baeza yielded two RBI singles to Adam Stout and Danny Clark and La Cañada scored a third run, for a 6-3 lead, on a wild pitch.

The lead was brief however, as Northend started gaining its bat speed and momentum against Hopkins in the top of the sixth.

Amidon led the inning with a single and scored an out later on a single by Cesar Hernandez. Hernandez was then plated on a single by Daniel Paramo to cut the La Cañada lead to 6-5. Hopkins then walked Ismael Becerra and was relieved in favor of Scott Eisen.

Eisen didn't fare any better against Northend, though, as he walked Ray Marquez to load the bases and walked Marty Mohamed to drive in a run and knot the game. Baeza then gave himself the lead with a run-scoring groundout for a 7-6 advantage.

Eisen followed with another walk to Michael Mohamed before giving up a single to Amidon. Amidon's single-plated Marquez, but two more runs came across as La Cañada right fielder Sam White let Amidon's hit go through his legs and roll farther into the outfield. The error made the score 10-6 and Baeza looked to finish the job on the mound in the final two innings.

"It was our bats," Northend coach Julio Baeza said. "We have a good hitting team. It just took time. In the beginning of the game I think the kids' confidence was down, but once they started hitting it came back."

Baeza ran with that confidence in the bottom of the sixth by recording three straight outs after Trey Rallis started the inning with a single. Northend was stymied in the top of the seventh by Eisen, but Baeza wasn't worried.

Following another lead-off single, Baeza induced two groundouts before striking out Clark for what seemed the last out. The called third strike got away from Northend catcher Hernandez, allowing Clark to reach base, but Baeza followed with another strikeout to clinch his complete-game victory.

"That's the kind of games we play," said coach Baeza. "We never give up."

Baeza allowed seven hits over seven innings and struck out four. La Cañada coach Tim Trumbo didn't feel the hit-per-inning rate his team played at was enough and that the end result proved his reasoning.

The victory places Northend in the double-elimination event's semi-final contest with its next game coming at 8:30 p.m. Monday against the winner of the La Crescenta/West Torrance contest.

El Centro will continue play in the tournament at 8:30 tonight against La Cañada after it fell into the loser's bracket with a 9-4 setback against La Crescenta on Friday. El Centro collected nine hits to La Crescenta's four in the game, but errors marred its chances of moving into the winner's bracket.

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