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Central boys succumb to Santana 5-4

May 21, 2002|By ROBERT FULTON, Special to this newspaper

SANTEE — In a game of mistakes, the Central Union High School baseball team committed just a few more than its opposition in a 5-4 loss to Santana High School here Monday in the first round of the San Diego Section Division III playoffs.

With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Spartan relief pitcher Dan Gonzalez walked two Sultans. Nearly out of the inning with two outs, Gonzalez threw an 0-2 pitch to Santana's Jeff Woods, who ripped the ball into centerfield, driving in Paul Cabading for the winning run.

"We lost the game on defense," said Central head coach Dave Middleton. "Every run they scored came on an error, either physical or mental. You can't walk a guy and put him into scoring position in the seventh inning."

The Spartans lost control of the game well before the seventh inning.

In the sixth Central was resting easy, handling the Sultans with a 4-2 lead. An error on a single from Santana's Hayden Penn allowed Cabading to score from first base, making the game 4-3. Tommy Wiley later drove in Penn to tie the game at 4-4, setting up the seventh inning heroics.


The Spartans were not the only team making mistakes.

Down 1-0 in the second inning, Central's Mario Gastelum hit a two-out single. What happened next was a comedy of errors of which Central gladly took advantage.

With Spartan Victor Cesena at the plate, Santana pitcher Penn tossed a wild pitch, giving Gastelum easy access to second base. Then the Sultans tried to get fancy, but their trickery came back to bite them.

Santana attempted the old hidden ball trick, with Penn acting like he had the ball but in reality second basemen Jesse Leon did. Gastelum took the bait, stepped off the bag and was tagged out by Leon. However, the plan backfired as Penn was on the mound without the ball. Penn was called for a balk Gastelum took third.

Cesena then made Santana pay for its deception, ripping a single to drive in Gastelum and tying the game at 1-1.

"That's the idea in any game," Middleton said. "If they give you something, you'll take it."

In the fifth, Santana regained the lead after two Central errors but it was short lived.

In the sixth, Central scored three runs, again with the help of errors.

Starting the inning, a Sultan error allowed Javier Vasquez on base. He was driven in by Enrique Lechuga. Vasquez stole second and reached third on a throwing error to second base by Penn. Gastelum drove in Vasquez with a hit, making the game 3-2.

Gastelum eventually scored off of a Dan Vela hit, giving the Spartans a 4-2 lead that they'd blow in the seventh.

Central's Leo Ibarra pitched five innings, giving up six hits while striking out two. Gastelum had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run.

The Sultans received a fine performance on the mound from Penn, who had 15 Ks but allowed five hits. Samuel Phillips had two hits and an RBI for the Sultans.

Santana, the No. 5 seed in the playoffs, improves to 14-15 on the season. The Spartans, seeded 12th, finish the season at 17-6.

Central claimed second in the Imperial Valley League in spite of having only three seniors on its roster.

"I really didn't know what to expect," Middleton said. "We have a young team. Next year we should have a good year. The future is looking good."

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