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John Glenn Plays Small Ball, Rally Late To Edge Cerritos

By Loren Kopff

The outfielders for the Cerritos and John Glenn baseball teams nearly took the day off in the Suburban League opener for both squads this past Wednesday. In fact, both teams combined to get the ball out of the infield seven times.

But it was the seventh time that resulted in the game-winner as Glenn junior designated hitter Rene Gayton laced a base hit inside of third base and down the left field line to score senior catcher Ronaldo Acuna and give the Eagles a come from behind 3-2 win over the visiting Dons. Both teams had three hits apiece and had to rely on their starting pitchers to keep them in the game.

“It’s a big win for our kids, just to start the league off with a win,” said Glenn first-year head coach Jack Brooks. “We played some good teams in the first nine games and I’m starting two freshmen. Four other guys…it’s their first time playing on varsity and we’re super young. It was big for the young kids to experience the success.”

With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Cerritos senior pitcher Brandon Thomas walked Acuna, who then stole second. That was followed by an infield hit from senior pitcher John Lemos and he too would steal second. After falling behind in the count 2-0, Thomas intentionally walked senior shortstop Jesse Gutierrez to load the bases before Gayton’s game-winner on a 1-1 count.

Cerritos (2-10 overall, 0-1 in the league) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when junior catcher J.T. Mars reached on an infield single and later scored on a wild pitch. Glenn was held without a hit through the first three innings as senior pitcher Brian Diaz allowed three runners, none past second base, on 36 pitches. But on the first pitch of the fourth, Lemos reached on an infield hit and stole second and third on consecutive pitches after getting big leads. After Diaz hit Gutierrez, the fourth of five combined hit batters in the game, Gayton laid down a sacrifice in front of Diaz, allowing Lemos to score.

Cerritos regained the lead in the next inning when Diaz was safe on the team’s second infield hit and scored on senior shortstop Jonathan Mura’s single to second. It was the third and final time for Cerritos that a ball was hit beyond the infield.

But the Eagles (3-7, 1-0) weren’t going away lightly and tied the game in the seventh. Diaz, who tossed just 86 pitches and allowed two hits, walked Gayton, who was forced at second when junior right fielder Cesar Arzate was safe on a fielder’s choice. After a pair of stolen bases, Arzate came home on a sacrifice from junior second baseman Ricky Padilla.

“We’re not the most offensive [hitting] team,” Brooks said. “It doesn’t take a genius to see that. We have to be able to bunt and we have to be able to put the ball in play and do the small stuff.”

Lemos, the veteran anchor of the pitching staff went all eight innings, throwing 106 pitches and striking out six. He got nine groundball outs and another three off of sacrifice bunts.

“He threw like a senior,” Brooks said. “He threw a great game. He battled. He gave up a couple of cheap hits and gave up one earned run. That’s what we had to have, especially in league.”

The two teams will conclude the home and home series today at Cerritos. On Wednesday, the Eagles visit Mayfair while Cerritos is home to Bellflower.