The often used phrase "Team Victory" was an appropriate description of the Milken Community High School Wildcats 8-6 come from behind win over the Concordia High School Cougars Tuesday afternoon at the Encino Little League Complex. Trailing 5-0 after an inning and a half, the Wildcats rallied to tie the score in the bottom of the 4th. And after falling behind 6-5 in the top of the 6th inning, the Wildcats came back to score 3 runs in their half and retired the visitors in the top of the 7th to come away with an exciting win.
11 players saw action for Milken and they all played a part in the win. It was a breakout day at the plate for newcomers Omer Weisbard, Will Zuckerman and the Wildcats lone freshman Josh Klein---all 3 players collecting their first base hit of the season. Josh had 2 hits, scored 3 times and threw out a Cougar runner from left field trying to score in the 6th. Omer & Will shared time in right field with Omer's single in the 2nd inning driving in the Wildcats' first run, while Will's single in the 6th broke a 6-6 tie and put Milken ahead for keeps. Another first year player Brian Gross, making his first start at 3rd base, was robbed of a hit in the 2nd inning. Nevertheless his line drive out produced a run following an errant Cougar pick-off throw.
As for the rest of the Wildcats, in their 2nd mound appearance Harris Girocco and Jason Welsh were surrounded by Cougar base runners all day but recovered to get crucial outs and keep Milken in the game. Harris went 4 innings, allowed 5 runs but 4 hits, walked 6 but matched it with 6 strike outs. At bat, he had 2 lead-off hits and scored both times. Jason had an easy 5th inning, striking out 2 batters. But after being touched for a run with 2 out in the 6th, Jordan (J. J.) Ross, who sat the first two innings, replaced him and after issuing 2 walks to reload the bases, struck out the next batter to end the inning.
After the Wildcats took the lead for good in the bottom of the 6th, J. J. came back to set down Concordia in the 7th, ending the game by striking out Matt Jardin, the potential tying run. At the plate he walked in the 4th and smashed a double in the 6th, scoring both times. Mitchell Mayer continued to play long ball, going 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 doubles-the first one just short of being another home run. Sammy Lawrence went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI's, while Jonah Resnick had an RBI bases loaded walk. Noah Mintz contributed with a well placed sacrifice bunt in the 4th and a lead-off single--he scored the tying run--in the big 6th inning.
Concordia jumped off to a 3-0 lead off Harris in the top of he first, as they batted around combining 3 hits and 3 walks for their 3 runs. Fortunately, Harris struck out the 9th batter #22 to leave the bases loaded. Other than my obtaining the full names of starting pitcher Matt Jardin and shortstop Jason Apodaca, the other Cougar players will be identified in this report by either their first name or uniform #. Although giving up a lead-off single to Sammy and a long double to Mitchell, Jardin shut Milken down in the first. The Cougars added 2 more runs in the 2nd without a hit--2 walks and 2 errors did the damage before Jonah playing short throwing out Apodaca on a close play to strand 2 more Cougars.
Milken struck back for 2 runs in their half of the 2nd. Harris led off with a single and after Noah flew out, Josh and Omer hit back to back singles--Omer’s driving in Harris and sending Josh to 3rd. Brian's line drive to the mound was snagged by Jardin but in his attempt to double Josh off 3rd, he threw the ball away and Josh scored to cut Concordia's lead to 5-2. The score stayed the same until the bottom of the 4th when again Harris led off by beating out an infield hit. Noah bunted him to 2nd and Josh's infield hit moved him to 3rd. Omer struck out but J. J. who had replaced Brian in the 3rd, walked to load the bases. With 2 down Sammy came through, smashing a base hit that fell in right center to drive in Harris & Josh and send J. J. to 3rd. With Jason at bat,Sammy lit out to steal 2nd --the throw to get him sailed into center field enabling J. J. to come home with the tying run and Sammy to reach 3rd. Jason smashed 3 line drives that curved foul, then went out pitcher to first to end the inning.
The 5th inning was scoreless, although Mitchell greeted Cougar left-hander Daniel with a lead-off double but in turn was doubled off 2nd when the Cougar 2nd baseman snagged Jonah's line drive and tossed to Apodaca to retire Mitchell who was nearing 3rd base. In the Cougar 6th with runners on first and second--both walks--and one out, Sammy's throw to get Daniel trying to steal 3rd, glanced off J.J'.s glove and rolled into left field. But Josh backed up the play and threw back to Sammy in time for him to get the tag down on Daniel for out #2. Jason was called for a balk with the runner Andy taking 2nd and scoring the go ahead on a single by #18. J. J. replaced him and got the side out--Concordia ahead 6-5.
In the Wildcat 6th, Noah led off with a single and took 2nd on an errant pick off throw. Josh laid down a bunt and when Daniel again threw the ball away, Noah scored to re-tie the game at 6 and Josh took 2nd. Will, who had replaced Omer, banged a single to right driving in Josh with the go ahead run. Will was thrown out trying to steal. J. J. followed with a double. After Sammy flew out, Daniel lost control, issuing walks to Jason, Mitchell & Jonah to force in J. J. with run #8. J. J. came back to retire the Cougars in the 7th--he was the winning pitcher.
Milken improved to 2 & 3 on teturn to Encino tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon to play the tough New Roads Jaguars from Santa Monica. The Jaguars won twice at Encino last season--their 9-1 win last May eliminated Milken from the Division 7 play-offs. They have many guys back from last season. Hopefully, Milken will have senior Cory Gitman back from the injured list. He is day-to-day.