By Jim Tortolano
Two champions walked off the field Thursday afternoon at the Garden Grove High School diamond, but only one was celebrating. La Quinta rallied twice to grab a 3-2 victory over the Argonauts, earning a piece of the Garden Grove League crown with Grove.
While both teams finished 11-4 in league play, the Aztecs will go into the CIF-SS playoffs next week as the number one seed from the GGL on the basis of having won two of three from the Argos.
La Quinta trailed the red-and-white by two games as the week began and needed to sweep the last two against Garden Grove to grab a piece of the title. What did Aztec head coach Brian Dawson tell his players as the final stretch began?
“Keep playing,” he said. “Keep playing.”
After winning Tuesday’s game at home 5-4, La Quinta found itself trailing 1-0 in the sixth inning, but managed to push across two runs in the top of the inning to take the lead on three singles and a sacrifice fly.
The Argonauts answered in the bottom of the seventh when Luis Salgado’s sacrifice fly brought in the equalizer, sending the game into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, with runners on first and second with two out, La Quinta’s Freddy Pimental lashed a line drive to left field that scored Alex Rostomian from second. A second run almost scored when Trevor Butt tried to get to the plate. He crashed into the Argonaut catcher, Andres Pina, and the umpire called the runner out, ending the rally.
“I thought he had the plate before he had the ball,” said Dawson, but chose not to argue too vehemently. “When I talk to the umpire I try not to get too excited because maybe I’ll get the next one.”
Dawson was more than excited; he said he was “ecstatic.” He singled out for praise Pimental, who “had the game-winning hit,” and Manny Ramirez who “really clutched up. Great job.”
Pimental was 2-for-4 with a double, a single and two RBIs. Ramirez made the pitching start for La Quinta, working six innings and yielding just one run and three hits. He struck out eight and walked three.
Grove got a strong pitching performance from Cesar Valencia, who went six innings and yielded two runs on four hits. He struck out seven and walked five. The top hitter for the Argos was Lalo Jimenez with two singles.
Both teams will advance to the playoffs next week, with the brackets being announced on Monday. The Aztecs will have a first round home game, while the Argonauts – as co-champs – may also be playing at home.
As for his goals in the post-season, Dawson’s instructions for the team are as succinct as the advice he gave his players as the week began. “Win every game in front of you. Compete.”
Here are results of Thursday prep baseball and softball games for the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area.
- La Quinta 3, Garden Grove 2 (8 innings)
- Santiago 9, Bolsa Grande 3
- Rancho Alamitos 2, Los Amigos 1
- Ocean View 7, Segerstrom 6
- Pacifica 12, Valencia 2.
Categories: High school sports