Lechuga succeeded as the Aztec catcher fumbled for the dropped ball, meaning a win for the Spartans in their season opener.
"It was pretty much a CIF quality game," Central skipper Dave Middleton said, saying both clubs played like seasoned playoff squads. "And to beat a team like Palm Desert, which is normally a very solid ball club, that's saying something,"
Central won with some sterling defense and timely hitting.
Both teams scored a run in the first inning. Palm Desert scored off a ground-rule double and a triple up the middle. Central scored off Mario Gastelum's base hit to left. Javier Vasquez led off with a walk, took second on Lechuga's sacrifice bunt and scored on Gastelum's single.
The Aztecs broke the stalemate with a solo home run over the fence in right field in the fifth. The Spartans answered with a solo round-tripper in the sixth. After hammering a foul ball over the fence in left, Raul Cazares pounded a home run over the same fence, this time fair.
Central collected eight hits. Cazares and Gastelum both had two hits, Kevin Betz doubled, and Victor Cesena, Enriquez and Dan Vela all singled.
Leonardo Ibarra worked the first four innings for Central, allowing one run on four hits and three walks. He struck out four. Dan Gonzales pitched the last three innings, surrendering one run on four hits. He fanned one.
The Spartans turned two double plays, with catcher Cesena picking off a runner at first to end one double play. He also threw out a runner trying to steal.
Central third baseman Enriquez made a couple dazzling stops down the line.
"We're still a young team," Middleton said, noting he is still learning where to put players.
Central hosts Crawford High of San Diego in a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Southwest at Mojave tournament
BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. — Southwest High's baseball team capped a successful season debut in the Mojave Tournament, going 4-1.
The Eagles topped Joseph City, Ariz., 12-8 and lost to Payson, Ariz., 4-0 on Friday before rallying Saturday to stop Sinagua High of Flagstaff, Ariz., 7-6.
Willie James earned the win over Joseph City, allowing no hits and striking out six in three and two-thirds innings of relief. Ernie Silva went three-for-three and Bryan Martinez was two-for-four.
That game and the Payson contest were played in 40-50 mph winds, with the wind chill factor about 30 or 40 degrees.
Eagles coach Mickey Carter said, "They were the worst conditions I have ever seen."
Against Sinagua, Southwest rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the last inning to win. Martinez took the win with two and two-thirds innings of relief work. He allowed two hits and struck out four, allowing one run. He went two-for-three at the plate. Alex Caldera added two hits.
Southwest next plays at 3:15 p.m. March 12 in Indio.
Imperial 17, Midway Baptist 5
IMPERIAL — Aaron Hartsock picked up the win on the mound and starred at the plate Friday as Imperial High's baseball team thumped Midway Baptist 17-5.
Hartsock allowed just two hits while striking out six. He went three-for-three with two RBI.
Holtville 4, Calipatria 3
CALIPATRIA — Holtville High's baseball team rallied in the last inning Friday to down host Calipatria 4-3 in a non-league game.
Holtville trailed 3-1 after three innings and 3-2 heading into the seventh.
Holtville hosts Vincent Memorial at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday while Calipatria plays at Lutheran High of San Diego on March 12.