In the tough Mission League, where there's little separation among the top teams, No. 6-ranked Mission Hills Alemany took a small step toward gaining the slightest of advantages on Tuesday, rallying for two runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat No. 10 Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, 5-4.
"It's a huge win," said left fielder Alex Mckenna, who started the inning with a booming double that might have been a home run if not for extreme windy conditions.
Notre Dame Coach Tom Dill was a little hesitant to bring in talented sophomore Hunter Greene from the shortstop position to pitch under tough conditions, but Greene was summoned to take over for Ryan Morris.
Greene, considered one of the most talented young players in the Southland, gave up an RBI single to Ruben Cardenas that tied the game. Brandon Lewis followed with another single and Will Picketts walked. Christian Goretti ended the game with an RBI single up the middle. Alemany improved to 9-2 and 3-0. Notre Dame dropped to 7-3 and 1-2.
"They're a good hitting team," Greene said. "I threw them batting practice."
Greene delivered a two-run double in the sixth inning to help the Knights wipe out a 3-0 deficit and take a 4-3 lead. Notre Dame was helped by several fielding mistakes by the Warriors.
"If we're going to do anything in the Mission League and playoffs, we have to do a better job catching the ball," Coach Randy Thompson said.
Alemany is the league's best hitting team and will be getting even better with the return of outfielder Cristian Montes, who has been sidelined with a back injury. He made a brief appearance on Tuesday, walking as a pinch hitter, and is expected to be in the starting lineup on Friday at Notre Dame in a night game.
"He provides a big spark for us on defense and offense," Mckenna said.
Mckenna isn't too bad himself. He threw out a runner trying to score from second base and had two hits, making him 19 for 35 this season. Pro scouts have identified him as a rising prospect. He has signed with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
"He's a dude," Thompson said.
Another intriguing prospect is Greene. In the crowd were representatives from CAA and the Wasserman Group, two the most powerful agencies in pro sports. Earlier than ever, top players and their families are being wooed to choose advisors in preparation for the baseball draft even though Greene isn't available to be taken until 2017.
In other Mission League games, Henry Stellwagen picked up the win and struck out five in six innings on his 18th birthday as Loyola defeated Chaminade, 5-2. Blake Rutherford homered for Chaminade. Awari Muoneke drove in two runs for Loyola.
Harvard-Westlake defeated St. Francis, 10-3. Cameron Deere struck out eight and allowed three hits. He drove in three runs. John Thomas, Leo Kaplan and Jake Suddleson each had two hits.