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Norwalk wins battle with John Glenn, stays alive for playoffs

By Loren Kopff

Just like clockwork, the John Glenn and Norwalk baseball teams lived up to the city rivalry that you would expect to see. With both clubs facing near playoff extinction, it’s only fitting that they would combine for 20 runs, 20 hits and 11 errors just two days after Norwalk won a low scoring pitching duel.
A loss by Norwalk would have just about been the end of its season with two weeks remaining but the Lancers scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth and rallied for an 11-9 home victory over the Eagles last Friday to complete the season series sweep. The win allowed the Lancers to pull even with the Eagles at 2-6 in the Suburban League, one full game behind Artesia for the fourth and final automatic playoff spot entering this week. This past Tuesday, Glenn beat Artesia and Norwalk held on to beat Cerritos to force a three-way for fourth place. Now, Artesia, Glenn and Norwalk are all 3-6 in the circuit.
“We had about four different internal battles that we had to get through within the seven inning game and they overcame them all,” said Norwalk first-year head coach Ruben Guerrero. “My hats off to [them] for coming out and just never giving up. They just fought through the whole game today.”
After leading throughout most of the game, the Lancers were trailing 9-8 going into the bottom of the sixth. But junior third baseman Fernando De Luna was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a sacrifice from sophomore right fielder Pete Hernandez. That was followed by a single from sophomore center fielder Jacob Carr and a double from junior shortstop Trino Romero, who later scored on an error.
De Luna pitched the top of the seventh and yielded just one base runner to pick up his first save of the season. When the dust had settled, the teams had played in the highest scoring game in this rivalry since Mar. 24, 2005, a 14-6 Norwalk win. But since 2007, the winner of the Glenn-Norwalk game has won by four runs or less 13 times with the Lancers coming out ahead eight times.
“We didn’t deserve to win,” said Glenn head coach Jack Brooks. “We made six errors, we dropped routine infield pop-ups and you can’t win games [like that].”
Norwalk scored twice in the bottom of the first before the Eagles got on the board in the second when senior third baseman Rene Gaytan’s single up the middle brought home senior first baseman Cesar Arzate. Two innings later, the Eagles tied the game on a groundout from senior catcher Arturo Loera, plating sophomore shortstop Luis Rosas.
But Norwalk (9-11 overall, 3-6 in league) responded with four runs in its half of the frame after sending 10 batters to the plate. The rally began with consecutive singles from Hernandez, Carr, Romero (a bunt to load the bases) and senior pitcher Miguel Castaneda.
Glenn (11-12, 3-6) got to within 6-5 in the fifth on three hits and a pair of Norwalk errors. But the hosts added two runs in the bottom half of the inning to make it an 8-5 affair. The score might have been more for Norwalk had the team not stranded 11 runners including the bases loaded in the second and fourth.
“We told them that when you have opportunities like that, with very few outs and bases loaded, we need to manufacture runs,” Guerrero said. “We have to cash in on those. We cannot leave that many base runners on.”
“I’m really proud of our kids that they battled back,” Brooks said. “I’m really proud of their effort. I’m proud of the way they competed. But to be honest, we had some help from Norwalk.”
Glenn sophomore pitcher Victor Sanchez went two for four, scored twice and was in a zone early in the game. Through the first three innings, Sanchez got ahead in the count 10 times and was ahead 0-2 three other times. But senior Deven Galindo replaced him with two outs and one on in the fifth.
“Our lefty actually pitched really well,” Brooks said. “He got no help. He didn’t pitch badly.”
Glenn will visit Artesia today before concluding the regular season with a home and home series against Bellflower, Tuesday at home and Thursday on the road. For Norwalk, Carr and Romero each went three for four and combined to score five times while Castaneda went two for four, scored three times and drove in two.
“They’re pulling their weight and we been waiting for them to break out,” Guerrero said. “They came through today and we’re very proud of them. They had a big game today.”
Norwalk will host Cerritos today, Artesia on Tuesday and visit the Pioneers on Thursday in what is turning out to be a do or die series.
“We said that nothing is a gimme these next two weeks,” Guerrero said. “We shortened our season down to four games. This is what our season comes down to.”