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Wildcats clinch share of IVL title

May 15, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

BRAWLEY — As Brawley Union High baseball coach Pedro Carranza approached the mound in the seventh inning during his team's game against Central Union High here Tuesday, starting pitcher Brandon Burnett had an idea what the visit concerned.

There was one out, Burnett had hit the previous batter with a pitch, Brawley was nursing a two-run lead and the Imperial Valley League championship was on the line. He knew Carranza would ask for the ball to bring in a reliever.

Wanting to finish what he started, Burnett didn't relinquish the pill. Instead he fanned the next batter and forced the final batter to fly out as the Wildcats clinched a share of the IVL title with Central by beating them 4-2.

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"There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to stay in there. He came up to talk to me and just ‘Good job' and asked for the ball. But I told him I wanted to stay out there," said Burnett. "This was a big game for us and we had been working our asses off to get to this point and there was no way I wasn't going to finish it."

Burnett gave up five hits and struck out five as the Wildcats improved to 9-2 in league.

"I was a little nervous before this game because I knew it wasn't like any other game. I tried to make it feel like any other game, but I knew it wasn't," said Burnett. "In that last inning, as soon as I struck that guy out right after (Carranza) talked to me, I knew it was meant to be."

After beating up Central 9-3 in their first go-round April 19, things were a lot tougher in round two. It was a four-run third inning by Brawley that ultimately was the difference.

"That was it. That was the game right there, that one inning," said Spartan coach Dave Middleton. "They get a hit that we can't cover at first that puts a runner on. Then later in the inning, with runners in scoring position, (Lafayette) Lofton hits a blooper that scores two. You just hate to lose a game on something like that. But that's the nature of the game."

After Javier Vasquez scored the first run for the Spartans in the third, Brawley responded in the bottom of the frame with four.

The Wildcats started the third with five straight batters reaching base. But it was a grounder by Dominic Aguirre that was misplayed by Central pitcher Leo Ibarra, who was covering first and overran the base, that changed the complexion of the inning.

Instead of two outs after Mitchell Ruiz was caught stealing second for the first out, the miscue put a runner on with only one out. Ibarra then hit Joel Aguirre and walked David Santana to load the bases.

An error on a ball hit by Burnett scored Dominic Aguirre and a wild pitch brought in Joel Aguirre to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. With runners on second and third, Lofton came through with his single that scored two to give Brawley a three-run advantage. The next two batters grounded out to end the frame.

The Spartans were forced to play catch up and got within two runs after Mario Gastelum scored in the sixth.

"This was exactly what we anticipated. We knew it'd be a hard-fought game. But I think the better team won, at least on this given day," said Carranza. "I think if this game was played at Central, we're looking at a different game, maybe not a different outcome, but maybe higher scoring.

"You know, the key to this win was that I told our guys not get caught up in the rah, rah with the whole rivalry thing and just stay calm," said Carranza, who claimed his second league title in three years as Brawley coach. "I also tell the guys not to get too high because once you get as high as you can, there's only one place you can go from there. But I thought they kept themselves leveled. They didn't get too high and didn't get too low. So I was proud of the way they played."

The Wildcats will have a chance to win the league outright at 4:15 p.m. Thursday as they play at Calexico. Central plays at Southwest at 4:15 p.m. Thursday.

Imperial 9, Palo Verde 8

IMPERIAL — Brenden Lopez scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to lead the Imperial High baseball team to a 9-8 Imperial Valley League victory over Palo Verde here Tuesday.

Down 8-6 entering the seventh, Eddie Martinez, Julian Lopez and Brenden Lopez all got hits in the seventh-inning rally. With the bases loaded, Chance Downs came through with a single that scored Martinez and pinch runner Matt Mitchell to knot the score at 8-8.

Dillon Foster was then walked and Brenden Lopez scored on a wild pitch to close the game and the regular season for the Tigers, who finish 6-6 in IVL.

Kevin Williams had two hits and two runs for Imperial and Martinez had two hits with a run scored. Brenden Lopez was 3-for-3 with a double and a run.

"The coaching staff is really proud of Brenden. He's shortened his swing and has really improved overall at the plate," said Imperial head coach William Estes.

Chris Cabrera picked up the win on the mound, pitching a complete game, giving up four earned runs and eight hits and striking out eight.

Calexico 12, Southwest 6

The Calexico High baseball team topped Southwest 12-6 in Imperial Valley League action in El Centro on Tuesday, improving to 5-6 in league.

Enok Madrigal led Calexico picking up the win on the mound, scattering eight hits in seven innings of work. He also had two hits.

J.P. Gonzalez chipped in two hits for the Bulldogs.

Bryan Martinez led the Southwest offense, going 2-for-4 with three RBI. Ricky Lopez had two hits with an RBI and a run and Ernie Silva and Brandon Armendariz both scored twice for the Eagles (3-8).

Alex Caldera took the loss, allowing three earned runs, seven hits and striking out two in five innings.

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