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SAN GABRIEL VALLEY LEAGUE SOFTBALL – Gahr unable to rally from early deficit, streak of six straight league titles snapped

 

Lagi Quiroga of Warren High is forced out at second base by Gahr High senior shortstop Taylor Stephens, who then threw to freshman first baseman Marley Cortez to complete a controversial double play in the top of the fourth inning of this past Tuesday’s key San Gabriel Valley League softball game. Warren posted a 7-5 victory with all its runs coming in the first two innings to prevent Gahr from possibly ending the season in a three-way tie for first place. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

 

May 27, 2021

By Loren Kopff• @LorenKopff on Twitter

 

The softball queens of the San Gabriel Valley League since the 2014 seasons will not hold that title in 2021 as Gahr High will not call itself league champions. The Lady Gladiators, who entered this season having won 56 of 59 league contests over the previous six seasons, fell to Warren High 7-5 this past Tuesday, costing them a chance of potentially going into the CIF-Southern Section playoffs as tri-league champions.

Gahr, ranked 10th in Division 1, dropped to 13-6 overall and 6-3 in league action, having been swept by the Bears for the first time since 2013. Gahr needed to win its last two games of the regular season (it visited Paramount High on May 27) and have Warren defeat Downey High, also on May 27, to finish in a three-way tie.

Both teams combined to score 11 of the 12 runs in the first two innings as Gahr rallied from deficits of three and five runs respectively, but never tying the game. To make matters worse, the early innings provided some controversial plays on both sides leading to some angry moments from both coaches.

“There were emotions; there were definitely emotions on both sides,” said Gahr head coach Rey Sanchez. “We know a lot of their girls and they know a lot of our girls. So, emotions were high. We had our senior event before [the game] and it’s hard to transition from celebrating to all of a sudden coming back [to play].

“We were basically, a couple of times, a call and a catch; a pop-up, away from them not scoring at all,” he later said. “We just have to be ready to make plays. We were there; we had good intensity. I liked the intensity we had. It was almost playoff atmosphere, which I liked. But they took advantage of some opportunities, which is what good teams do.”

With two outs in the top of the first, Warren pitcher Lauren Narvaez reached on the first of those controversial plays as she legged out an infield single, barely beating the throw from senior shortstop Taylor Stephens, who scooped up the softball, spun around and threw a dart to freshman first baseman Marley Cortez. That opened the floodgates as the Bears (15-7, 8-1) would get a single from Alyssa Vasquez and a two-run home run from Dyoni Garcia on a total of four pitches thrown by senior pitcher Valerie Alvarez.

In the bottom of the first, sophomore third baseman Hayley Olivas reached on a fielder’s choice and Stephens made it to second on the first of three Warren errors in the inning. The second one allowed Alvarez to be safe and bring home Olivas and when Cortez reached on the third error in a span of six pitches, it was 3-2.

Narvaez would walk sophomore left fielder Hailey Sanchez to load the bases. After a strikeout, the second controversial play would prove more of a killer than the first one as senior right fielder Skyler Sanchez reached on a fielder’s choice. But Hailey Sanchez would be out at second when it appeared from the eyes of the Gahr coaches, players and spectators that she had beat the throw from Warren’s Philycia Pedrosa. Instead of sophomore courtesy runner Sophia Magcale tying the game and having the inning extended, it remained 3-2 in favor of the Bears.

“I liked the way the girls responded,” Rey Sanchez said. “We could have gotten out of that first inning unscathed. But I liked the way our girls were ready to bounce back. That was part of the emotion and I think everybody was hyped up, and they responded.”

Warren would flex its muscles in the next inning, scoring four more times on four consecutive hits with the big blow being a bases-clearing double from Narvaez. But the Lady Gladiators chipped away again with their own two-out rally. Olivas singled and Stephens was walked on four straight pitches before Alvarez drove them in with a single.

Warren would get three hits over the next five innings and did not get a runner past second base. Meanwhile, Gahr got a little closer in the fourth with another two-out rally. Olivas doubled to the right field gap, moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on a base hit from Stephens, who will be attending UCLA in the fall. However, she was thrown out at second trying to stretch the single to a double. After that, Narvaez retired the final nine batters of the game and after throwing 51 pitches in the first two innings, she tossed 49 over the final five frames.

“Lauren’s a competitor,” Rey Sanchez said. “I’ve known her for a long time, and I’ve had the fortune of coaching her in travel ball, so I know how good she is. She has pinpoint accuracy and she’s a battler. But we battled a lot better than we did in the first round against her.”

Gahr had won 10 straight games against the Bears in league competition before this season and including the two losses this season, the Lady Gladiators have a 23-25 record against Warren, including tournament games, since 1998. Gahr will know who, where and when it will play, whether it’s a wild card game or a first round game, when the brackets are released on Saturday. The program has not played in a wild card game since 2009, the last time it finished in third place. The next four seasons after that, Gahr missed the playoffs.

“I’m just glad we’ve able to get on the field, play and celebrate our seniors today, which was a great thing for them,” Rey Sanchez said. “I’m just happy because there were times there where I didn’t think we would even have a season. And I think everybody was in the same boat.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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