By Adam Stites/Garden Grove Journal
This school year, the Rancho Alamitos Vaqueros have already earned Garden Grove League titles in football and basketball. Now only the Garden Grove Argonauts stand between the Vaqueros and a baseball title that would give them a clean sweep of the three most prestigious high school sports.
The Argonauts threw a wrench in Rancho’s plans with a 5-4 victory over the Vaqueros at Garden Grove High School on Tuesday, April 24 to set up a battle for the league lead on Friday, April 27 (tomorrow).
What’s at stake? “Until next season, bragging rights all year,” said Garden Grove starting pitcher Christian Smith. “Friday’s a huge game.”
The Vaqueros entered Tuesday’s game with a one-game lead in the Garden Grove League standings, built mostly on the back of senior pitcher Jim Roll who leads the league in wins, strikeouts and earned run average. However, sophomore Matt Wiley took to the mound for Rancho.
With two runs in the bottom of the first inning off a single from junior Alex Camino, the Argos hopped out to an early 2-0 lead that they carried into the third inning. The Vaqueros came storming back with four runs, including a two RBI grounder hit by junior Cory Walker to snatch a 4-2 lead.
A two-RBI grounder from Grove junior Hector Ferriera in the bottom of the fourth tied the score again and they eventually regained the lead with another RBI single from Camino in the fifth inning.
“We had some clutch hits today,” said Garden Grove Head Coach Ricardo Cepeda. “We’ve been having a little bit of trouble with guys on base and not getting that big hit and Alex Camino had a couple big hits for us today.”
Despite Rancho catcher Brian Alvarado getting in scoring position with a seventh inning double, Smith finished the game by pitching his sixth scoreless inning to silence the late attempt at a rally.
“Everybody just played as a team and had my back all day,” Smith said. “I didn’t have my best stuff today, but the team came around me and everyone came together.”
“We had a pretty good pitching performance from a sophomore,” said Vaqueros Head Coach Greg Pines. “It was a great game today, we’ve just kind of struggled to get runs all year and we’ve relied on pitching to keep us in the game.”
The win by Grove knotted both teams in first at 8-2; the Argos are 13-5 overall and Rancho is 13-5.
Friday’s rematch is likely to also rely on pitching when Roll faces off against Nate Anderson, a first-team all-Garden Grove League pitcher last season.
“We’re gonna have our number one guy throwing Friday, Jim Roll and they’re gonna have a tough guy on the mound too, Anderson,” Pines said.
Each team will have four more games to play after their duel on Friday so the league title will not be decided that day, but the winner will get a leg up and have a one-game advantage in the league standings.
The game for the Garden Grove League lead is set to start at 3 p.m. on Friday at Rancho Alamitos High School.