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SUBURBAN LEAGUE BASEBALL: Chiquito too much for Norwalk as John Glenn edges city rivals late

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

WHITTIER-John Glenn High baseball coach Jack Brooks was happy to escape with a win over crosstown rival Norwalk High this past Wednesday, but that’s where the happiness ends. Norwalk head coach Bill Wenrick was also unhappy with his team’s performance, as the Lancers squandered yet again opportunities to get that timely hit or two which would push across runs.

In the end, the host Eagles rode the arm and bat of senior pitcher Humberto Chiquito, who yielded five hits, struck out 14, walked one and went the distance for the second time this season. Oh, he also had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the sixth inning as Glenn edged Norwalk 2-1 in a game played at Rio Hondo College.

The Eagles, ranked second in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 4 poll, improved to 12-5 overall and 2-0 in the Suburban League. Norwalk, having one of its better seasons, dropped to 8-6, 2-1.

“If that kid is not one of the best players in the area, I don’t know who is,” Brooks said. “He’s a great kid; he’s what it’s all about. We played [terrible] and you can quote me on that. We’re missing two starters today for disciplinary reasons. We knew we had a tough game. That’s a much better team.

“When you’re going through a season, you need to have a couple of these games go your way if you’re going to have a championship season,” he continued. “And luckily, this one went our way.”

Junior center fielder Damone Hale tripled to the deepest part of the outfield to lead off the bottom of the sixth and two pitches later, Chiquito doubled him home. On the next pitch, junior catcher Alexis Martinez tried to get him to third, but bunted right back to Norwalk junior catcher Andrew Arriola. One pitch later, senior third baseman Rafael De Avila’s attempt to move Chiquito to third was foiled when he bunted back to senior pitcher Anthony Gonzalez, who then threw to senior third baseman Isaiah Villa to complete the double play.

“He’s one of the best in our league,” Wenrick said of Chiquito. “It seems like he’s been around as long as I have. He threw a great game. We struck out way too many times and half of those times were looking. And then when we did have opportunities, we didn’t execute. I think both teams are better than what they played today. I know they can execute better than they did. They kept us in the game. But I’m proud of our guys, I’m proud of Anthony, getting out of jams and staying in the game.”

Chiquito was on fire early on, throwing a first pitch strike to nine of the first 10 batters he faced, striking out seven of the first nine he faced and not allowing a Lancer to reach until senior left fielder David Urzua led off the top of the fourth inning with a single into shallow centerfield. But he would get caught stealing on a 1-0 count to Villa for the second out.

Glenn took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Gonzalez hit junior left fielder Julian Marrujo with two outs. Marrujo would then steal second and come home on a base hit from junior shortstop Joseph Angulo. He too would steal second but eventually become the third Eagle in three innings to be stranded in scoring position.

In the next inning, Gonzalez walked Chiquito, who would move to second on a wild pitch. Then with one out, De Avila singled but would be doubled up following a long fly ball to right field from senior first baseman Sergio Burgos.

“We didn’t make any adjustments,” Brooks said. “[Gonzalez] worked away, away, away and we didn’t make any adjustments until that last inning when we hit a ball to the right center gap and then Humberto hit the ball over the second baseman’s head.

“We didn’t execute,” Brooks later said. “We were…bad, and if we’re going to compete for a league title or a championship, we cannot play like this. We didn’t get down bunts, we screwed up a squeeze. We got a sac bunt own in the last inning and that’s the only thing we did fundamentally good offensively.”

After stranding two runners in the fifth, the Lancers finally broke through in the sixth when Urzua reached on an error with one out. Then after Chiquito’s 13thstrikeout, back to back base hits from Villa and senior designated hitter Mark Gil plated Urzua. Norwalk would have a chance to tie the game in the top of the seventh after senior second baseman Adrian Perez singled to right and senior right fielder Richard Lozano reached on an infield knock. But a double play and a pop-up ended the game.

Both teams combined for 10 hits by 10 different players and Gonzalez pitched his first complete game of the season, and third straight by a Norwalk hurler, striking out three and walking one.

“He’s been pitching great all year,” Wenrick said. “It’s just been hard luck. [Against] Mayfair, he pitched that great game but didn’t get a win because it went extra innings. The same thing happened with South El Monte.”

Both teams will complete the last season series as Suburban League members when Norwalk hosts Glenn today. Brooks will start Angulo while Perez will toe the slab for the Lancers, who will be looking to beat Glenn for the first time since Apr. 26, 2013. Glenn will then host Mayfair High on Monday in a makeup game before welcoming one-win Artesia High on Wednesday. The Lancers will visit Bellflower High on Wednesday.

“Look, if we don’t play better, it’s going to be a game just like this,” Brooks warned. “It’s going to be a game just like this.”

“I expect we’re going to see something very similar,” Wenrick said. “I expect them to execute better and I expect us to execute better. But I’m expecting almost a similar game that we had today.”