Coach Ricardo Figueroa said his English players were more excited than usual going into Wednesday’s game against Latin Academy, which was a rematch of last year's city championship.
Considering how his team overcame a late rally by the Dragons, it looks as though he was right.
“We’re going to beat them next time,” said English senior pitcher Nelson Barreiro after his team's 3-2 extra-inning win. “We’re going to beat them. They are a good team, but we are better.”
While Barreiro pitched great -- going all 8 innings, with 13 strikeouts -- the win was far from easy. After English took a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning, Latin Academy found itself in need of a spark.
Latin Academy pitcher Vincent Lopriore drew a walk with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, then senior Dan O’Connell reach first on an error, advancing Lopriore to third.
The late defensive woes for English continued when catcher Miguel Calderon overthrew the second baseman on a steal attempt by O’Connell. The error allowed Lopriore to score and O’Connell to advance to third.
“I was so sad because the defense couldn’t make the play," said Barreiro. "I was so mad."
But the rally wasn’t over. Junior Mark Guerard hit an RBI single to left to tie the game up.
“They had a really good pitcher throwing, down 2-0 in the last inning, but our guys kept fighting and had some good at-bats and they never gave up, which is good," said Latin Academy coach Anthony Bernazzani. "That’s what we need."
However, the defending city champions didn’t give in. With one out in the eighth inning, English had runners on first and second. On Frankely Gonzalez's grounder, Latin Academy made the forceout at third, but an overthrow at first allowed Arcibiadez Pena to score.
“You have two good pitchers going at it like that, it’s going to be a low-scoring game, so any run could be the difference," said Bernazzani. "So you've got to make sure you play tight defense."
It looked like Latin Academy had one last rally in it when senior Patrick Owens hit a shot to deep center in the bottom of the eighth. He appeared to have an inside-the-park home run -- but the umpires ruled that he did not touch second base.
“He missed second base," said Bernazzani. "The umpire said he missed second base so that’s an out."
Figueroa had nothing but great things to say about Barreiro.
“He’s been awesome all year long," said the coach. "This guy’s unbelievable. This guy’s got a good arm, he throws strikes, and he knows what he is doing on the mound."
Gonzalez also had a great game, with a double and an RBI triple.
With the Memorial Day city championship approaching, the first-year English coach said he felt confident with his squad as it goes deeper into the season.
“We can have a good run this year but we need some additional players because I’m running short of players on the bench," said Figueroa. "When next time comes, there’s going to be more competition."
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