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SUBURBAN LEAGUE BASEBALL : Cerritos lacking that hunger to win, unable to rally against Mayfair

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

LAKEWOOD-This is about the time in any high school season that teams competing for a league title or postseason berth need to keep the foot on the gas pedal. Unfortunately for the Cerritos High baseball team, it forgot to read that memo.

The Dons are going in the opposite direction, lacking that urgency to beat the teams that had been below the Dons in the Suburban League standings. Cerritos dropped a 3-2 decision to host Mayfair High last Friday and coupled with a 7-1 setback to Woodcrest Christian this past Tuesday in a non-league affair, the Dons are sitting at 15-8 overall and 4-4 in the circuit. They have lost four of the last six games and have scored 13 runs in those six games. Throughout most of the contest against the Monsoons, Cerritos head coach Scott Parsonage kept asking his team where the urgency was.

“That’s what I’m still trying to find out and pinpoint,” Parsonage said. “I don’t know what’s happened in the last two weeks. It seems like after we played that second La Mirada game at home, it took a lot out of us. And they’ve got to understand that La Mirada is not the only team in this league. They’re the best team in this league by far and you don’t have to beat them to make the playoffs.

“You have to take care of the other teams you need to take care of and right now, it seems like we’re coming out flat, no passion, not hungry whatsoever,” he continued. “It seems like it’s a little fall league game right now in the last couple of weeks and I don’t understand this.”

Cerritos split a home and home series with Bellflower High and had to score a run in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Mayfair 5-4 on Apr. 18 after blowing a 4-0 lead. But in the rematch last Friday, the Monsoons grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on run-scoring singles from Noel Soto and Andrew Harlow.

The Dons had their share of chances to score in the early innings, but stranded runners at second base in three of the first four innings, each time with one out. They finally broke through in the top of the fifth when junior designated hitter Bernie DeLeon was walked and replaced by sophomore pinch runner Brenden Reyes. Sophomore catcher Jonathan O’Neill then singled to center and after an out, junior left fielder Matthew Aguinaga singled to the left field gap to put Cerritos on the board.

After the second out, Soto was replaced on the mound with Jordan Brown who intentionally walked sophomore pitcher Evan Vasquez to load the bases. But a fly-out ended an opportunity to tie, or even take the lead.

“When we come out and have selfish at-bats and we’re not playing for the guy next to us [and] we’re playing for ourselves, you’re not going to be very successful as a baseball team,” Parsonage said. “And that’s what’s going on. Guys are being selfish instead of unselfish; they’re playing for themselves.”

Mayfair scored what ended up being the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth when Adrian Reveles was hit by a pitch, advanced on a sacrifice from Landon Ingram, moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on a single from Brown. In the top of the seventh with one out, Aguinaga reached second on an error and scored on a base hit from sophomore center fielder Raul Garcia.

After a strikeout, freshman third baseman Nick Hill was walked but a groundout on a full count ended yet another opportunity, and the game. Cerritos would leave nine runners on the bases for the game. Cerritos had half a dozen hits with DeLeon getting two of them. Vasquez went the distance for the third straight outing and fifth time in eight starts this season. He surrendered six hits, struck out three and walked one.

“We’re not executing,” Parsonage said. “When we were bunting, we’re bunting back to the dang pitcher. The guy on first isn’t anticipating the bunt and we’re not getting the secondary leads to make it to second base. It’s just the fundamentals of the game that we’re not executing.”

Cerritos will be put to the test in the final two weeks of the regular season, hosting John Glenn High on Wednesday before playing the Eagles on the road two days later. Then the Dons will wrap up the regular season with a home and home series with Norwalk High. Entering today’s action, Cerritos was sitting in fourth place in the league, a half a game ahead of Norwalk which will visit last place Artesia High. Glenn was in second place battling La Mirada for the top spot.

“Bottom line is we need to take care of ourselves,” Parsonage said. “We can’t watch what’s going on with the other teams. We hold our own destiny. You kind of hear that a lot, but it’s true. If we win, we’re going to be alright. If we lose two of the last four or three of the last four, honestly I don’t think we deserve to make the playoffs.”