By Adam Stites/Garden Grove Journal
With a quick toss from the shortstop to second base, Pacifica’s Tanner Negrette was out and Cypress officially cliched the Empire League title. Led by senior pitcher Zack Ortiz, the Centurions were able to hold off Pacifica 5-4 and defend their title as Empire League champion on Tuesday, on their homefield.
It’s a tough loss, but the saying is, ‘those that don’t kill us make us stronger’ so we’re gonna be stronger and we’ll move on and learn from this,” said Pacifica’s head coach Mike Caira.
Despite the final score, it was the Mariners that found themselves on the scoreboard first. In the top of the third inning, the leader in hits in the Empire League, Jono Herkins, hit a two out single. Trent Chatterton followed that up with a hit coupled with an error by the Cypress defense that allowed Herkins to score and Chatterton to reach third base.
However, it was errors by the Pacifica defense in the third and fourth innings that allowed Cypress to score five runs and ultimately push themselves out of reach. In the fourth inning, a lead off double from Ortiz put the Centurions in position to add to the two runs tallied in the third inning.
A bunt by Cypress sophomore Steven Andrade turned into an RBI single after the throw to first went over first baseman Cody Bistline’s head, allowing Ortiz to score. Later in the inning, a pitch from Mariners’ starting pitcher Kyle Davis reached the backstop and allowed Andrade to score.
After the game, Caira described the errors by the Pacifica defense as “uncharacteristic.” Prior to allowing five runs in two innings to the Centurions, the Mariners had held opposing teams to fewer than five runs in seven consecutive games.
A three run-home run in the bottom of the sixth inning by Pacifica’s Devan Campos kept hope alive for the Mariners and closed the Cypress lead to one. Unfortunately for Pacifica, they were unable to get a hit off the closing pitcher for the Centurions, Christian Uchytil.
Despite the loss, the season is not over for the Mariners and they will finish as the second place team in the Empire League, which gets them a spot in the CIF playoffs.
“I like the mentality, I like where we’re at…This won’t faze us, we’re set up nicely for the playoffs and we’ll take care of that,” said Caira. The schedule for the CIF playoffs will be released on Monday. Before that, though, the Centurions and Mariners will play once again today (Thursday) at 3:15 p.m. at Pacifica.
Despite the lack of significance in the playoffs or league race, Pacifica is not taking the game lightly. “We all know that they’re a great team and we want to get a win against them,” said Pacifica’s Campos. “That would be a big thing for us, that would be huge for us to get a win on Thursday.”