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605 LEAGUE BASEBALL : Cerritos’ Vazquez pitches a gem while offense roughs up Artesia pitching in league opener

CERRITOS HIGH junior Evan Vazquez was dominant in his team’s 605 League opener against Artesia High this past Tuesday. Vazquez pitched six strong innings, striking out 11 and yielding only a sixth inning single. He faced 19 batters and also went two for four at the plate and scored three runs in a 19-0 victory. Photo by Armando Vargas, contributing photographer.


By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


The way Cerritos High junior pitcher Evan Vazquez was pitching, he didn’t need too much run support. In fact, one run would have been just fine, but the Dons decided to add 18 more in their 605 League opener against visiting Artesia High.

Cerritos scored five times in the bottom of the second, third and fifth innings and Vazquez tossed a one-hitter in six innings of work in a 19-0 victory this past Tuesday. It’s the widest margin of victory over Artesia in at least 22 seasons and enabled the Dons to win their third straight game and sixth in their last seven games. In fact, the 19 runs represent the most scored against the Pioneers since at least 1999. Last season, the Dons blanked Artesia 16-0 and overall, have won eight straight over the Pioneers.

“He was pounding the zone and was in command with all pitches,” said Cerritos head coach Brooks Walling of Vazquez.

In just his sixth start of the season, Vazquez had his best outing thus far, going six strong innings, throwing 66 pitches and striking out 11 batters. He was ahead in the count nine times and had a 0-2 count seven times. At one point, Vazquez struck out eight straight batters and he faced one over the minimum.

“I was just trying to stay around the zone; getting good pitches and putting my teammates in a position to win,” Vazquez said. “I really trusted my fastball; that was my main goal, and I saw that my curveball was working. I only used two pitches today. I usually have my changeup and slider, but I felt there was no need today.”

Vazquez evened his record at 3-3 but that’s a little misleading. He got no offensive support in a 4-0 loss to Arlington High on Feb. 16, lost to Glendora High 4-3 in eight innings on Mar. 5 and fell to Murrieta Valley High 6-3 on Mar. 9 in the first game of a doubleheader.

“He has been facing some tough opponents,” said Cerritos head coach Brooks Walling. “His [second] loss was against Glendora. He got the loss against Murrieta Valley, another high-quality opponent. His ERA is down and his walks to strikeouts is a good ratio. He’s just had some bad luck early on.”

Vazquez was perfect until Artesia sophomore left fielder Pablo Vega was safe after he struck out but reached on a wild pitch. Vega would then steal second and move to third on a groundout before Vazquez got junior second baseman Patrick Garcia to pop up. He lost his no-hitter when sophomore first baseman Alex Soriano singled on the first pitch to begin the top of the sixth inning.

“I was telling myself there’s always a ‘what if’,” Vazquez said. “We lost to Glendora on a walk-off and…what if I threw a different pitch? There’s always that time. You’re always going to learn something new every outing. So, I believe I’m getting better every outing.”

“I take a little credit for that,” Walling said. “We were cruising, and I don’t think either one of us thought that guy was going to be able to get around on a fastball. It’s something really hard to do.”

Meanwhile, the offense was having its best game of 2019. The Dons (10-6 overall, 1-0 in league) batted around in the three innings they scored the five runs. Vazquez also helped himself at the plate, hitting a pair of doubles in four at-bats and scoring three times. Sophomore third baseman Nick Hill went four for four with five runs batted in and a pair of runs and senior second baseman Matthew Pinal went three for four with four RBI. Pinal will be today’s starter when the two teams complete the home and home series at Artesia. All but two starters collected at least one hit and eight of the nine starters scored at least a run.

“We talked about staying disciplined today and I thought we did a decent job of it,” Walling said. “We’ve been seeing mid-80s all [season] and today we saw 72 to 73 and our goal was not to pop things up.”

“I’m happy for us because it’s been a while since we’ve put up 19 runs,” Vazquez said. “So, I’m fine with it. I think it’s better for me; I have more time to rest in between innings. Every new inning I’m fresh. I didn’t feel any fatigue in my arm today.”

Artesia, which saw its mark dip to 1-13 overall, will begin a home and home series with Whitney High on Tuesday at Cerritos Park East while the Dons are home to John Glenn High on Tuesday in the front end of their home and home series with the Eagles. Despite Glenn losing to Oxford Academy 10-1 this past Tuesday, the series with the Eagles could still go a long way in determining who wins the first 605 League championship. In 2017, the two teams split their home and home series with the Dons winning 1-0 in 10 innings on the road before falling 3-2 two days later. Cerritos advanced to the playoffs that season for the first time since 1998 but more importantly, began a heated rivalry with Glenn.

“It’s a rivalry,” Walling said. “We’re excited for them to come to our yard first and to get one early and drive a nail in the coffin. It was three years ago when we made the playoffs for the first time in a [a long time]. We went to their yard and beat them…we got creative right there. Anytime you step on the field with [Glenn head coach] Jack Brooks, it’s going to be a war. I think he thinks the same thing with us.”

“I’m looking forward to them, definitely,” Vazquez said. “I believe that those two wins are going to determine who wins the 605 League. They’re going to be two pretty good games with me and Pinal pitching and the big bat. He’s going to show up and I’m going to show up too.”