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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Cerritos baseball ends scoreless streak, blanks Paramount behind Wright’s performance

Cerritos High senior catcher Owen Mendez makes contact during his third at-bat of the game this past Monday against Paramount High. Mendez was hitless but drove in a first inning run as the Dons blanked the Pirates 9-0. PHOTO BY SCOTT LAKE.

March 14, 2024

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

When you’ve been held without a run for 16 consecutive innings, the best thing you can do is have the best first inning of the season. That’s what happened to the Cerritos High baseball team as it pounced on Paramount High for seven runs in the bottom of the first inning this past Monday and whitewashed the Pirates 9-0.

The Dons (6-3), who had not scored since the bottom of the fifth inning against Laguna Beach High on Mar. 1, also ended a three-game losing skid. Cerritos posted its second shutout of the season and had its best run performance in any inning this season. It scored five times in the bottom of the first inning against Marina High on Feb. 13. Other than that, three runs had been the top mark in any inning.

“We did exactly what I wanted the boys to do,” said Cerritos first-year head coach Matt Joyce. “They came out and responded. In the last two games, I think we had four or five hits, no runs and faced some very good pitching. It was tough for us, but we answered in the first inning, especially. I was super happy with the way we came out. And this is what we should have done against a team that we should do it against.”

Cerritos is a CIF-Southern Section Division 4 team while Paramount is in Division 7. The Dons are now 4-0 against teams in the lower divisions and 1-1 against Division 4 opponents. The bottom of the first inning saw the Dons send 12 batters to the plate and began the frame with four straight hits. The big blow came when Jacob Quinones hit senior left fielder Tristan Chen to load the bases.

Cerritos High junior pitcher Christian Wright was dealing against Paramount High this past Monday. Wright went five innings, threw 59 pitches and allowed three hits in a 9-0 win. PHOTO BY SCOTT LAKE.

Two pitches later, junior third baseman Fabian Mejia singled in senior shortstop Carter Chi and senior center fielder Johan Gibbs. A walk to junior first baseman Kaden Brickner loaded the bases again for senior designated hitter Noah Gapuz, who reached on an error as Chen made it 4-0. Two batters later, junior Braxton Reed’s base hit to the left field gap plated Brickner and Gapuz to conclude the onslaught.

Gibbs, who was walked to lead off the second inning, came home on a double from Chen and Chi, who doubled with one out in the third, scored on Chen’s double to complete the scoring. Chen, Chi, Gibbs and Reed all had two hits as the Dons posted 11 hits, second most of the season.

“You could see once [Paramount] got down, they’re kind of reeling,” said Joyce. “So, it kind of makes our job at the plate…we just want to be tough outs. We just have to be tough outs, get the next man up and just keep the chain moving along. That’s what we did. Even though we only got one run in those next couple of innings, those were still long, tough innings for them.”

Not to be outdone was junior pitcher Christian Wright, who pitched five solid innings of three-hit ball, struck out a pair and walked one. He did that on 59 pitches and retired the last nine batters he faced, six coming in the form of a groundout. Wright went to a two-ball count twice and a full count once.

“Wright did great,” said Joyce. “He filled the zone up, threw a ton of strikes and pitched to contact. We’re not going to blow a bunch of people away with high velocity.”

The Dons will host Long Beach Wilson High on Friday and Mayfair High on Saturday before opening 605 League on Tuesday at John Glenn High.

“Wilson is a really good, well-coached team,” said Joyce. “They just beat a really good Fountain Valley team over the weekend. We’re excited about that, [and] I think we can play with them. It’s a bounce back game for us [because] the last Moore League team we played, they got us pretty good. So, we’re really excited about that. We’ll have Gibbs going and it will be a really good test. Then Mayfair is no slouch either on Saturday. We’re playing some good teams, but I like it. They’re answering the call.”

In other baseball action, Artesia High began the week at 3-3 as the Pioneers hosted Rancho Dominguez Prep this past Wednesday and are scheduled to entertain Los Amigos High for a doubleheader on Saturday before opening 605 League action on Tuesday at Pioneer High.

Gahr High posted a pair of shutouts to begin Gateway League action, getting past Warren High 2-0 last Tuesday and then coasting past Norwalk High 10-0 last Friday to improve to 4-3, 2-0. The Gladiators hosted Downey High this past Wednesday and will entertain Loyola High on Friday and Arcadia High on Wednesday.

John Glenn, which won five games last season, edged Mountain View High 7-6 in nine innings last Friday to improve to 4-3. The Eagles had a makeup game against Whittier High this past Tuesday and lost to the Cardinals 14-5. They will next be in action on Tuesday against Cerritos, then travel to Bosco Tech High the next day before hosting Long Beach Cabrillo High on Thursday.

Valley Christian High evened its mark to 5-5 with a 2-1 win over Whittier Christian High this past Tuesday. The Defenders also leveled their Olympic League record after two games as they will host Valley View High on Saturday before visiting Maranatha High on Wednesday.

Whitney High is winless in five games as it visited Workman High on Mar. 14. The Wildcats will host Oxford Academy on Tuesday in the 605 League opener.

SOFTBALL

Artesia tied South El Monte High 4-4 and shutout Montebello High 5-0 last Saturday in the Santa Fe Tournament. The Pioneers (3-5-1) visited Pioneer on Mar. 14 and will play two more games in the Santa Fe Tournament on Saturday before welcoming Oxford Academy on Tuesday.

Cerritos whitewashed Paramount 13-0 this past Tuesday to improve to 5-1. The Dons, who have scored 50 runs and blanked a pair of opponents, will visit Glenn on Friday and host Whitney High on Tuesday.

Gahr opened the Torrance National Tournament last Saturday with a 7-0 win over Santa Monica High. The Gladiators then defeated Banning High 6-4 this past Monday. Gahr will face Rio Mesa High on Friday, go to La Habra High on Tuesday and travel to Mayfair on Thursday.

Glenn dropped a 16-0 decision to El Rancho High this past Monday and are 2-3 as the Eagles enter 605 League play. After its game with Cerritos, Glenn will welcome Pioneer on Tuesday.

La Mirada High is 9-2-2 as it hosted Norwalk on Mar. 14. The Matadors will play a pair of games on Saturday before hosting Downey on Tuesday and going to Warren on Thursday while Norwalk got past Segerstrom High 2-1 this past Tuesday to improve to 7-3. The Lancers will face Mark Keppel High on Saturday in the Santa Fe Tournament.

V.C. defeated Heritage Christian High 18-8 this past Tuesday in its Olympic League opener. The Defenders, who improved to 9-3 on the season, entertained Maranatha on Mar. 14 and will do the same to Village Christian High on Thursday.

A day after crushing Cabrillo 21-3 this past Monday, Whitney lost to Costa Mesa High 8-6 in eight innings. The Wildcats (6-2) visit Oxford Academy on Friday. Loara  High on Monday and Cerritos on Tuesday.