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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
Four days after the Cerritos High baseball team clinched the school’s first postseason berth since 1998, the Dons flexed their arms at the plate and on the mound against host Norwalk High. Senior pitcher Jamriel Rodriguez took a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth inning and settled for a one-hitter as the Dons smashed the Lancers 11-1 this past Tuesday.
With one game left in the regular season, a May 12 home game against Norwalk, the Dons were sitting at 13-13 overall and 6-5 in the Suburban League. Cerritos has posted back to back double digit victory seasons for the first time since 1998 and 1999 and will have at least a non-losing league record since 1998.
Cerritos was still reveling in its thoughts of ending that long playoff drought as the team walked onto the Norwalk field. The Dons had to endure a 20-minute rain delay last Friday against John Glenn High and pull out a 13-7, 10-inning win on the road.
“It’s surreal,” said Cerritos assistant coach Brooks Walling. “Eighteen years; who would have [thought] that? Glenn had a million chances to put the game away. They battled back and it was a wild one. In 10 innings, we put together one inning and put them away. There are no words to describe what these kids are feeling right now.”
Against Norwalk (7-16, 2-9) Rodriquez was taking care of the hosts for most of the first five-plus innings. Rodriguez walked four and hit a batter through five innings but the Lancers would strand all five of those runners. Then with two outs in the sixth, senior designated hitter Antonio Guerrero was safe on a wild pitch after striking out. Two pitches later, he would score on an error and on the very next pitch, senior right fielder Andrew Martinez singled to center to break up the no-no. Rodriguez struck out nine and walked four for his fourth complete game of the season.
“His command wasn’t really there,” Walling said. “He struggled a little early. We have to get him back in the bullpen and dial him in where…we went to Carter [on Mar. 17] and knocked off the No. 4 team in the division and he didn’t walk anybody. We have to get him back to that fiery, competitive mode.”
Cerritos scored all 11 of its runs in the final two innings. The Dons sent 11 to the plate in the sixth and scored half a dozen runs. With the visitors holding a 1-0 lead, senior right fielder Jason Prieto-Burnham singled, freshman first baseman Bernardo DeLeon doubled and senior left fielder Erik Gomez singled to load the bases. Norwalk senior pitcher Julio Sanchez walked senior center fielder Tyler Beyer to plate Prieto-Burnham and the rout was on.
Junior catcher Brett Wells had a two-run single later in the inning and added a two-run triple in the seventh. It was the third triple of the inning, following one from Gomez and junior second baseman Jonathan Estrada. In all, the Dons collected a dozen hits.
“I figured the monkey is off our back and we have nothing really to lose now,” Walling said of the slow start. “We know we’re in [the playoffs]; we’re playing for seeding. But you’re dealing with high school kids and they finally figured it out in the sixth inning.”
In other baseball action, Gahr High was looking to complete its first undefeated San Gabriel Valley League campaign in over 18 seasons when the Gladiators hosted Dominguez High on May 12. Gahr entered that game at 23-6 overall and 9-0 in league play. The 23 victories are the most since 2005. The Gladiators also went 24-6 in 1999.
Valley Christian High hosted Whittier Christian on May 12 and is hoping to get an at-large bid. The Crusaders fell to Whittier Christian 9-1 this past Tuesday and was 15-11 overall, 4-7 in the circuit and a game behind Whittier Christian. However, V.C. loses the tiebreaker to the Heralds, having lost the first two games of three games to them.
A wild final two weeks of the season has left the Suburban League with tri champions. Norwalk High split a pair of games with La Mirada High last week and Cerritos High this week to end the regular season at 13-9 overall and 9-3 in the league. La Mirada was stunned by sixth place Bellflower High 2-0 this past Wednesday, thus giving the league three teams tied for first place with Mayfair High being the other team to finish 9-3.
Gahr High completed its season with a 12-0 win against Dominguez High this past Tuesday to enter the playoffs at 22-5-2 overall and 10-0 in the San Gabriel Valley League. The Lady Gladiators outscored its league opponents 105-8 and had an earned run average of 0.47 in league action.
Whitney High was supposed to have played Crean Lutheran High this past Wednesday with the final automatic spot from the Academy League to be settled. However, a “miscommunication” between Crean Lutheran personnel forced the game to be a forfeit in favor of Whitney. As of late Wednesday, Whitney was awarded the victory and gets into the playoffs. However, Crean Lutheran was going to file a protest
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