WILDCATS WIN PITCHING DUEL |
Milken 3, Pacifica Christian 2By Joe Cohen
Pitching was the name of the game Wednesday afternoon at the Encino Little League Complex. In a game that played off in about an hour and 40 minutes, the Milken Community High School Wildcats defeated the Pacifica Christian Seawolves 3-2. Going the distance on the mound were the Wildcats Jordan (J. J.) Ross and the Seawolves Kevin Hammer. Both pitchers gave up 2 runs in the first inning and from then on it was a scoreless battle until the Wildcats scratched out a run in the bottom of the 6th. Pacifica threatened in the top of the 7th. But with runners on first and third and two down, J. J. struck out pinch hitter John Register swinging on a 3 & 2 count to preserve the win for Milken. It was J. J.'s 9th strikeout--he gave up 6 hits and issued the only walk of the game. 2011 Heritage League Co-MVP Hammer gave up only 4 hits, struck out 6 and, after allowing the first 2 Wildcat batters to reach base and score in he first, set down 15 of the next 16 Wildcat batters before Milken scored the clincher in the 6th.
As has been the case for most of the season, Milken was missing two starters--pitcher-3rd baseman Jonah Resnick, still out with a sore shoulder, and center fielder Jason Welsh, who was ill. This necessitated Sammy Lawrence moving from left field to center, freshman Josh Klein from right to left with substitute Omer Weisbard playing right field. Will Zuckerman also came off the bench to play first with Harris Girocco moving to 3rd and Mitchell Mayer to short. Along with Noah Mintz at 2nd and catcher Corey Gitman they came through in the field against the Seawolves,who came in with 8 starters from last season's Heritage League winner and runner-up in the CIF Southern Section Play-Offs--same scenario as the Wildcats in 2010.
5 batters into the game, it looked like Pacifica was out to run away with the game. With one down, Hammer walked, raced to 3rd on Keenan Pierandozzi-Howe's double to right field, and scored on Tucie Shelp's single to left with Pierandozzi-Howe taking 3rd and scoring when J. J. threw wild to first after fielding Nico Agnone's nubber near the mound with Shelp taking 3rd and Agnone 2nd. But J. J. pitched out of it by striking out catcher Grant Nagai and getting first baseman Duncan Valade, a Cheviot Pony alumnus, to ground out to Noah at 2nd.
Milken struck back quickly in their half. J. J. led off with a single to center and stole 2nd. Mitchell singled to left, J. J. stopping at 3rd. With Corey at bat, Mitchell stole 2nd. Corey bounced a slow grounder to 3rd and was throw out at first, J. J. scoring and Mitchell taking 3rd. Sammy took a called 3rd strike but with Harris at bat, Hammer uncorked a wild pitch, Mitchell broke for the plate and beat Nagai's throw to Hammer covering to score the tying run. Harris struck out and other than his 2-out single in the bottom of the 4th, it was 3 up-3 down for Milken through the bottom of the 5th. J. J. wasn't as perfect but he did retire the side in the 2nd--Will leaping to flag down a high throw to first--and in the 4th. Pierandozzi-Howe singled with one out in the 3rd but got no further. Athen Shelp-Tucie's brother--singled with one out in the 5th but Hammer forced him at 2nd and Josh hauled down Pierandozzi-Howe's fly ball to left. In the 6th, back-to-back errors with 2 down put runners on first & second. But J. J. got Ozzie Chimalpopoca to pop out to Will at first and the score remained tied at 2..
So up came Milken in the bottom of the 6th with J. J. leading off again and smashing a single to center. He stole 2nd and took 3rd when Mitchell grounded out 2nd to first. Corey smashed a sinking liner that the shortstop dove for and knocked down. J. J. broke for the plate and scored the go ahead and eventual winning run when the throw to get him sailed over Nagai's head--Corey taking 2nd. Sammy's drive to right center was hauled down and Harris hit back to Hammer who opted to throw to 3rd and retire Corey to end the inning.
So up came Pacifica in the top of the 7th. The #9 man in their batting order, Timmy Vaughn, smashed a hard come backer that J. J. fielded and threw him out at first. But Athen Shelp banged a single to left bringing the dangerous Hammer-0 for 2 on the game but 6 for 8 v. Milken last year to the plate. On a 1-0 count, Hammer connected late on a change-up, hitting a pop-up down the first base line that Will gloved in foul territory for the 2nd out. But Pierandozzi-Howe kept Pacifica in the game with a single to deep right center, his 3rd hit of the game. Sammy fielded the ball before it went any deeper to hold Pierandozzi-Howe to a single with A. Shelp going to 3rd. With the game on he line, Register, who hit a home run in Encino last year, came off the bench to bat for T. Shelp but J. J. cashed him out on a 3 & 2 count as the Milken loyal supporters cheered and breathed a sigh of relief at the same time. A great win over a tough opponent. Milken is now 2 & 1 in Heritage League Play. Pacifica who had a league bye last week is 0 & 1. The other 3 Heritage League teams all play non-league goes this week.
PS: Hammer was also the losing pitcher last season in Encino when Harris drove in J. J. for a walk-off win two days after Pacifica walked-off with a win on their field--Hammer went 5 innings in that game. If nothing else, let's hope the Wildcats can hold down Pierandozzi-Howe and Chimalpopoca for obvious spell-check reasons.
Posted on 3/29 9:26 AM | IP: Logged