El Centro wins two games against Calexico in the District 7 inter-city 14-15-year-old championship

June 30, 2002|By JONATHAN DALE, Sports Writer

IMPERIAL — With surprising bursts of power late in both the first and second games of the District 7 Babe Ruth 14-15-year-old inter-city tournament championship, El Centro defeated Calexico 10-3, then 8-2.

Since the tournament was double-elimination, El Centro, which lost 2-1 to Calexico in the first round, came from the losers' bracket to play Calexico for the title. Calexico, undefeated going into the championship, had to win just one game to get the title. El Centro had to win two games.

A single by center fielder Ernie Sanchez early in the first inning of the first game gave Calexico a one-run lead over El Centro.

The next couple innings featured impressive defensive stands, with both El Centro pitcher Tyler Martin and Calexico pitcher Michael Jaime holding their opposing teams to no runs through the fourth inning. Jaime extended Calexico's lead by one more run with the help of a misthrown ball by El Centro in the top of the fifth.


El Centro answered its two-run deficit with an astounding 10 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Shortstop Randy Andrews crossed the plate twice and scored teammates Joe Vasquez and Martin to account for nearly half of El Centro's runs.

Calexico came back with a run, thanks to a double by first baseman Oscar Cardenas. El Centro held on, however, beating Calexico 10-3.

The second game was an almost mirror image of the first. Calexico scored first with a single by right fielder Bobby Mendoza in the bottom of the second inning.

El Centro was quicker to answer Calexico this time, scoring three runs in the top of the third off a single by center fielder Jack Fleming and two errors by the Calexico defense. El Centro scored once more in the top of the fourth inning, thanks again to a costly Calexico error.

El Centro pitcher Mario Meza held Calexico to just one run from the second to the seventh innings, allowing his offense the confidence it needed to win the game. In the top of the sixth, El Centro's Martin, Vasquez, right fielder Juan Ramirez and first baseman Gustavo Roman each made base hits to bring El Centro's score to eight.

Calexico's made a valiant attempt to regain the lead, scoring one run off a double by second baseman Humberto Covarrubias. But Meza finished off Calexico in the bottom of the seventh, sealing the deal for El Centro with the help of third baseman Edgar Marquez, who caught the final out.

El Centro coach Hector Gastelum said after the game, "It feels good. We had to come back to win this through the winners' bracket. (The players) just came together, they did well."

Meza agreed with Gastelum's sentiment, saying, "It feels good. We came back strong to win two straight games."

"I think we lost our focus," explained Calexico coach Jerry Niebla. "El Centro just took advantage of opportunities."

In other District 7 tournament play, Imperial defeated Brawley 7-2 to win the 13-year-old tournament championship. Clifford Beson pitched the last five innings for Imperial, holding Brawley to just two runs on five hits. Those two runs were the only runs scored against Imperial throughout the tournament.

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