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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Short-handed Cerritos baseball team roughed up by El Rancho in Lions Tournament

March 24, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter


Through the first 10 games of the season, the Cerritos High baseball team was off to one of the best starts the program has seen, losing a pair of four-run games. One was on a walk-off grand slam to Valley Christian High in the second game of the season and the other was to Downey High on Mar. 9 in which the game was tied 1-1 after three innings.

But in the back of his head, first-year head coach Martin Rodriguez knew it was a matter of time before the Dons would have one of those, ‘we came out flat’ games. In the first of two games last Saturday and the third of five in the prestigious Anaheim Lions Tournament, Cerritos was knocked off by El Rancho High 9-2, giving up a season-high 14 hits while being held to a season-low three hits and committing a season-high four errors. Even without the services of a few key players, Rodriguez concurred it was the worst performance his team has played thus far.

“I would say so,” Rodriguez agreed. “We knew going into it we were short-handed with [sophomore shortstop] Carter Chi out. [Sophomore outfielder] Noah Gapuz was out; he broke his hip a couple of weeks ago. He’s out for about five to six weeks. And then we knew [senior catcher] Owen Gott was on borrowed time today. We wanted to see how far he could go.”

Gott has had a deep bone bruise on his kneecap since the second game of the doubleheader against V.C. on Feb. 12 and played the first three innings against El Rancho while Chi felt a pull during a swing against South East High on Mar. 16, the first game of the tournament.

El Rancho scored once in the top of the second and third innings but Cerritos had chances to score in the early innings. In the bottom of the second inning, sophomore right fielder Johan Gibbs was safe on an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice from senior first baseman Anthony Rincon. Senior third baseman Ethan Vo then reached on a fielder’s choice but would be caught leading off first to end the inning. In the third with one out, senior pitcher Evan Geppert and junior center fielder Paul Kim each were ahead of the count 3-0 before both struck out looking.

“We actually don’t give a take sign that often,” said Rodriguez. “We’ll give it 3-0, but even full-time 3-0, we don’t get the take sign. We’ll let guys swing the bat.”

The host Dons got on the board in the fourth when freshman shortstop Dalton Chi singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly from junior left fielder Raymond Sierra. El Rancho would put the game away with six runs in the fifth inning while Cerritos managed one hit the rest of the game despite putting runners on base in each of the last three frames. The second run came when Kim flied out to right with the bases loaded in the fifth, scoring Vo who had led off the inning with a walk.

“The one thing that people notice is that we’re extremely young,” said Rodriguez. We finished the game with one senior on the field; we started the game with just two seniors on the field. For these kids to be as successful as they have been early in the year, it’s a good thing. It’s okay for them to get smacked around a little bit. I don’t mind it, to be honest with you.

“We’re going to take some lumps,” he continued. “I want them to be able to kind of get back up. I’m glad we’re playing [Marshall Fundamental] in an hour and not three days from now. I want to see how they respond.”

Cerritos would shutout Marshall 3-0 later in the day behind a complete game from junior pitcher Brandon Casas, the got past California High 5-2 this past Monday to finish no worse than second place in the 67-team tournament which runs through Apr. 29. Cerritos would begin 605 League action this past Tuesday with a 12-4 win against Artesia High to improve to 11-3. The two teams face each other today at Artesia in the back end of the home and home series before the Dons host Oxford Academy on Tuesday in the front end of that home and home series.

In other baseball action, the surprise team of the season continues to be Artesia, which fell to 7-5 after the loss to Cerritos. It’s the first time the Pioneers have won seven games since 2014 (7-19) and the seven wins are one more than the combined total of the past four seasons. The Pioneers will host John Glenn High on Tuesday in the first of two against the Eagles next week.

After losing seven of its first nine games, Gahr High has won two straight including a 10-2 win over Foothill High last Saturday. The Gladiators (4-7) will travel to Dana Hills High on Saturday before facing Corona High on Monday at Great Park in Irvine and entertaining Martin Luther King High on Wednesday.

Glenn remains winless in six games this season as the Eagles hosted Western High on Mar. 24 ahead of the weekly series with Artesia. Glenn has lost 17 straight games and 21 of 22 beginning with its 2019 CIF-Southern Section Division 3 wild card playoff loss to West Torrance High.

La Mirada High is off to another solid start, knocking off Reno High 8-2 this past Monday in the Anaheim Lions Tournament, improving to 11-3-1. After facing Oregon-based Lakeridge High and Damien High in consecutive games this week, the Matadores will host Bellflower High on Tuesday in the opener of the home and home series with the Buccaneers.

Norwalk High, ranked fourth in the CIF-SS Division 6 poll, was swept by La Mirada last week by a combined score of 17-3. The Lancers (9-6, 0-3) dropped a 4-0 decision to Mayfair High this past Tuesday and will host the Monsoons before facing Paraclete High on Saturday.


Gahr began the season winning four of its first five games, but has stumbled lately, splitting its past six games. The Gladiators (9-5) will travel to Downey High on Tuesday in the San Gabriel Valley League opener before facing Upland High on Thursday in the first of five games in the Michelle Carew Classic. Gahr will also play either Canyon View High or South Torrance High following the Upland game.

The feel good story from the 2021 season, Glenn, has struggled in the month of March and began the week on a two-game losing streak where it allowed 17 runs. The Eagles are 3-6 this month after going 5-1 last month. Glenn lost a heartbreaking 12-11 decision to Pioneer High last Friday as the Titans rallied from a 10-6 deficit and won the game with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Glenn visits Whitney High (1-5, 0-1) today and goes to Oxford Academy on Tuesday before entertaining Montebello High on Wednesday.

La Mirada began the week on a three-game winning streak, including a 2-1 win at Etiwanda High last Thursday. The Matadores (8-6) visit Suburban League arch-rival Mayfair today before entertaining Firebaugh High on Tuesday and Norwalk on Thursday.

Norwalk knocked off Mayfair 9-1 last Friday to improve to 12-5 overall, 1-1 in the Suburban League and will welcome Firebaugh today before going to Bellflower on Tuesday and La Mirada on Thursday.

V.C. dropped a 10-0 decision to Mira Costa High last Thursday, falling to 2-9-1 as it hosted Maranatha High on Mar. 24 in the Olympic League opener. The Defenders will also travel to Whittier Christian High on Tuesday.



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