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Norwalk sets the tone very early, stops four-game slide

ST. PAUL EASTER TOURNAMENT

By Loren Kopff

A brief three-game winning streak by Norwalk’s baseball team in which it had scored 36 runs and allowed only two quickly turned into a four-game losing streak. But when the Lancers faced Bell this past Wednesday in a pool play game of the St. Paul Easter Tournament, they wanted to erase the pain of allowing six runs in the bottom of the seventh in a one-run loss to Narbonne the previous day.

As it turned out, Norwalk (6-6 overall) scored four runs in the top of the first and held on for a 5-3 victory.

“It feels good, it feels good,” said Norwalk first-year head coach Ruben Guerrero. “We needed that and it took a big weight off our shoulders to get that win. We came out and put a lot of effort on the field today. We tried some different guys in different spots and they came out and busted their buns for us. They helped us out.”

Sophomore center fielder Jacob Carr began the game with a base hit and was certain to be picked off of first. But a botched rundown allowed Carr to steal second, and advance to third when junior shortstop Trino Romero was safe on an error.

An infield single from senior first baseman Miguel Castaneda loaded the bases, followed by a triple to left field from junior third baseman Carlos Garcia. Three pitches later, Garcia scored on a ground out from senior catcher Joseph Borjorquez.

Norwalk added one more run in the top of the second when sophomore right fielder Pete Hernandez scored on a base hit from Romero. It would be the last base hit for the Lancers, who had four base runners from the third inning on but two of them would get caught stealing.

“It gave us momentum and helped us out,” Guerrero said of the first inning. “It helped us out to settle our nerves and be able to perform the rest of the way. You want to be able to score throughout the game rather than just up front. The guys out there wanted to win.”

After that, Norwalk rode the arm of senior Adrian Gonzales who picked up his first victory in three starts. Gonzales scattered eight hits and struck out six in six innings of work. He allowed a run in the third and two more in the fifth but was dodging numerous scoring chances from the Eagles, who stranded half a dozen runners in the first five innings, all of them in scoring position.

“He came through in a pinch for us,” Guerrero said. “It’s just a gutsy performance by that guy. He left it all on the field. There’s no question about his heart and desire and he wanted it today.”

Garcia needed only 10 pitches to work a perfect seventh inning. Carr got two of the five hits Norwalk got, the third time in the last four games the Lancers were held to five hits or less. Norwalk will get back into Suburban League action on Wednesday with a home game against La Mirada.

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