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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Valley Christian baseball rallies late despite more defensive issues

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


Valley Christian High’s baseball team put an end to its non league schedule with a dramatic come from behind victory over St. Bernard High last Saturday. But the way the Crusaders rallied wasn’t the sexiest of comeback wins.

V.C. scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth on only one hit and escaped with a 6-5 victory. The Crusaders batted around but had four batters reach on walks and another get hit. And V.C. still won despite making seven more errors to run their season total to 40 at the time.

“It’s all about putting pressure on the other defense,” said V.C. head coach Michael Dunk. “They put pressure on us and we committed six or seven errors and they capitalized on that opportunity. We pushed our batters closer to the plate; we adjusted to them the second and third time around [in the lineup]. We got a few hit by pitches, working the pitcher. He was probably in the 80s in his pitch count. We knew he was getting tired, so it was all about being patient with the approach.”

With the Vikings leading 5-2, senior left fielder Roger Ramos was walked to begin the bottom of the sixth. Senior catcher Jesse Smith was then hit by a pitch with one out and junior first baseman Zach Krosschell was walked to load the bases. Another walk, this time to senior starting pitcher Jarod Trader, scored Ramos.

That was followed up by a nifty squeeze bunt from junior designated hitter Brent Van Meeteren a few feet from home plate up the third base line, allowing Smith to score. Moments later, junior pinch runner Christian Bosse and Trader would score on wild pitches.

The Crusaders grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a run-scoring double from junior second baseman R.J. VanKampen and a base hit from sophomore center fielder Brett Garcia. Then over the next four innings, V.C. would get two hits and strand six runners on base while St. Bernard gained a 5-2 advantage as the hosts were making error after error. Trader worked three innings and allowed two earned runs while Krosschell pitched the final four frames and yielded a pair of unearned runs.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” Dunk said. “The other team put up five runs and [we] had to put eight errors in front of that. If you make some clean plays, you kind of eliminate a lot of runs. That’s just been how everything has been going all season. We’re not getting blown out by teams; we’re keeping everything close. We’re in every game that we play. We just have to clean things up defensively.”

V.C. (14-6 overall, 3-2 in the Olympic League) made five more errors against Heritage Christian High this past Tuesday and had to hold on for a 7-6 win on the road. The Crusaders moved into sole possession of second place and will host Heritage Christian today before welcoming in league-leading Village Christian on Tuesday.

“Heritage has a winning record against me,” Dunk said before this past Tuesday’s game. “This is my third year going against them and they’ve taken two series out of me. So we know they’re hungry. We have to be hungrier. We’re in contention [for a league title]. We’re right there. We just have to do some work next week.”

In other baseball news, Artesia High fell to La Mirada High 10-3 this past Wednesday for its 10th straight loss. The Pioneers (5-13 overall, 0-5 in the Suburban League) will host the Matadores today and Norwalk High on Wednesday. Norwalk is also winless in league action following a 3-1 setback to John Glenn High this past Wednesday. Norwalk has lost five straight to drop to 5-12 overall and 0-5 in the circuit.

Glenn improved its record to 10-10 overall after the win over the Lancers and in the process notched its first league win in five tries. The Eagles will visit Norwalk today before travelling to Mayfair High on Wednesday. Entering today, Bellflower High and La Mirada were tied for first place while Cerritos, which visited Royal High on Apr. 21, was in third place with a 4-2 league record. The Dons, 11-9 overall, will visit Bellflower on Wednesday.


City rivals on opposite ends of the spectrum met this past Wednesday when Gahr High paid a visit to Cerritos and walked away with a 6-1 victory. The Gladiators, who are the third ranked team in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division III top 10 poll, improved to 16-4-1, have won six straight games and 11 of their past 12 games.

Gahr was nursing a 1-0 lead through four innings with the lone run coming in the top of the second when freshman left fielder Jazmine Hill scored on a wild pitch. But the floodgates opened in the fifth when Gahr batted around and scored five runs.

Sophomore right fielder Madison Huskey began with a solo home run over the left center fence. Freshman second baseman Giselle Tapia followed that with a single and came home on a triple from sophomore shortstop Dejanae Davis, who would eventually score on a wild pitch

Later in the inning, junior first baseman Malia Quarles added a run-scoring hit and senior center fielder Alyssa Cuffia had a run-scoring groundout. Gahr had eight hits by eight different players and freshman pitcher Hannah Kumiyama scattered three hits.

The lone Cerritos run came in the bottom of the fifth when sophomore right fielder Jennifer Morinishi reached on a fielder’s choice and came home on a base hit down the left field line from sophomore first baseman Kiara Crockett-Pope.

Cerritos fell to 5-12-1 and will face St. Joseph High tonight at Lisa Fernandez Field in Lakewood before getting back to Suburban League action on Wednesday at Bellflower. Gahr went to Dominguez High on Apr. 21 and will play a doubleheader at North Torrance High on Monday before coming back home to entertain Lynwood High on Tuesday. The league title will then be on the line when the Gladiators travel to Warren on Thursday.

In other softball action, Norwalk had no problems with Glenn in an 8-1 win this past Wednesday. The Lady Lancers improved to 8-7 overall, 4-1 in the Suburban League and remained in second place behind La Mirada. The Lady Eagles fell to 8-10, 2-3 and are tied with Artesia for fourth place. Norwalk will host Glenn today before travelling to Artesia on Wednesday while Glenn visits third place Mayfair on Wednesday.

Valley Christian came up short against Village Christian High, 12-8, this past Tuesday to drop to 2-15 overall and 1-2 in the Olympic League. Valley Christian hosted Maranatha High on Apr. 21 and d will visit Whittier Christian High on Tuesday to begin the second round on league action.

Whitney High lost to Calvary Chapel Downey High 9-5 this past Tuesday and took its 6-8 overall mark, 0-2 in the Academy League, into its Apr. 21 road encounter at Brethren Christian High. The Lady Wildcats will then travel to Crean Lutheran High on Tuesday.