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Tigers lose postseason opener 10-3


Sports Editor

IMPERIAL — Seven times this season the Imperial High baseball team had rallied to win games it trailed after the fifth inning.

During the No. 4-seeded Tigers' CIF San Diego Section Division IV playoff game here against No. 8 seed Santa Fe Christian (21-6) of Solana Beach that wasn't meant to be as Imperial lost in the opening round 10-3.

Imperial coach William Estes said he was disappointed, citing a number of missed opportunities, including stranding seven Tigers, leaving the bases loaded twice and allowing Santa Fe Christian's starting pitcher Mike Campbell to regain his composure after "we had the kid on the ropes."


Estes also was surprised, no "shocked," he said, about his team's lack of enthusiasm, going into the first round.

Still, the Tigers (14-10 overall, 6-6 Imperial Valley League) did draw first blood when right fielder Chris Cabrera got on base with a knock into center. After advancing to third from first on a Julian Lopez single, Cabrera scored on a wild throw to first as the Eagles tried to turn a double play.

The bottom of the first would be the last lead Imperial would see as Santa Fe Christian scored two in the second, one in the third and three in the fourth.

The top of the fourth was especially ugly as errors — official or otherwise — abounded.

A walk by starting Tiger pitcher Aaron Hartsock put Santa Fe Christian's Andrew Meyer on base. A fielding error by third baseman Kevin Williams off a ball hit by Paul Kirwan advanced Meyer to second with Kirwan safe at first. Then Kirwan and Meyer did a double steal. A three-way shallow center field collision of Tigers en route to a Matt Love fly ball, which was dropped, scored both Meyer and Kirwan to bring the score to 5-1. The topper was Love scoring on a Brian Wheatland single to bring it to 6-1.

Imperial added a run in the fourth when Erik Ramirez reached first on a misfielded ball and subsequently stole second and third. Ramirez scored on a fielder's choice hit by Cabrera. The score was 6-2.

The Tigers added their final run in the fifth when Lopez scored on a fielding error of an Art Garcia hit, bringing the score to 6-3.

Any Tiger momentum was lost in the sixth when Meyer scored on a Love single to make it 7-2.

The knockout punch came on the next at-bat when Hartsock's reliever, Eddie Martinez, gave up a three-run homer to Wheatland over the left-field fence for a 10-3 score, which held until the end of the contest.

Said Santa Fe Christian coach Mike Sanchez of Imperial: "They are a well-coached, well-disciplined team and they compete like crazy."

All is not lost for Imperial High. This year's playoff system is double-elimination so the Tigers are back in action here at 4 p.m. Thursday against No. 5 seed Mountain Empire (18-6).

"We're going to gamble a little bit and play Chris Cabrera (at pitcher)," Estes said.

What's more, Estes is going into Thursday's game with a will-win attitude, already planning his pitching rotation for Saturday.

"Our goal is to reach the semis," he said.

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