LA CAÑADA — It's been a frustrating season for the La Cañada High baseball team.
A campaign removed from winning the Rio Hondo League championship without a blemish, the Spartans have fallen on tough times this season.
La Cañada looked to get back on track when it met visiting San Marino in a league contest Friday. Instead, the Spartans encountered more frustration.
La Cañada couldn't capitalize some scoring opportunities in the final two innings and suffered a 6-4 defeat.
The injury riddled Spartans (9-10, 1-5 in league) were swept in the three-game season series by the Titans (7-7-1, 4-2), with all three defeats coming by two runs or less.
"It's terrible, frustrating," said La Cañada second-year coach Matt Whisenant, who in 2017 guided the Spartans to an appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinals and was named the All-Area Baseball Coach of the Year. "We've been in a lot of our games throughout the year and we just keep coming up short.
"You just have to stick with things and keep playing. We have starting pitcher Connor Buchanan and our outfielder Ian Tinkham out with injuries, so we need our other guys to step up. We've just got to stay with it and try to get some wins."
La Cañada fell, 6-4, at San Marino on Tuesday and suffered a 1-0 home defeat against the Titans on April 4. All five of the Spartans' league defeats have been by two runs or less.
La Cañada had a couple of golden scoring opportunities to either tie or take the lead against San Marino on Friday. After San Marino scored a run to make it 6-4 in the seventh inning, the Spartans had runners on first and third with one out. San Marino reliever Blake Cabot induced a pop-up on a bunt attempt for the second out. La Cañada's Kyle Osornia stole second before Cabot got Jason McCubbin out on a sharp come-backer to seal the victory.
"We thought we were going to pull it out in the last inning," said La Cañada designated hitter Michael Lauenstein, who finished with three hits and three runs batted in. "It just didn't work out.
"In a lot of our games, we've been able to start off well and then we hit a tough stretch. That happened again today."
The Spartans had runners on first and second with two outs in the sixth, but Cabot got a fly-out to right in foul territory.
La Cañada took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-run single by Lauenstein.
A run-scoring single by Grant Spitzer cut the lead to 2-1 and an errant throw by the La Cañada pitcher allowed Noah Herrera to score to knot it at 2.
A sacrifice fly to center by Tommy Long gave the Titans a 3-2 lead. San Marino then received a run-scoring double from Ryan Sabin to make it 4-2 before Sean Richardson followed with an RBI single to cap the scoring in the inning.
San Marino bounced back with a run in the fourth to make it 5-2.
La Cañada scored two runs in the fifth with two outs. A run-scoring single by Andrew Nomoto brought the Spartans to within 5-3 and Lauenstein collected an RBI-single to make it 5-4.
Austin Urbach of San Marino drove in a run with a single in the seventh to close out the scoring.
The Spartans got two hits each from Jonathan Shaklan, Tai Walton and Zach Feehan. Shaklan and Walton each scored two runs.
The Titans received three hits from Richardson and two each from Urbach and Herrera.