The Rojas house is divided. Marco is a senior pitcher at Granada Hills Kennedy and brother Jose is a sophomore JV catcher at San Fernando. This week's two rivalry games has the brothers trying to remain brothers.
Marco came through big time on Monday, getting the call to make a surprising start on the mound after an injury to starting pitching Gilbert Hernandez on Saturday. All Rojas had to do was pitch in a must-win game against the Tigers.
Given a 10-run lead after two innings, Rojas threw strikes and finished with a four-hitter to help Kennedy defeat San Fernando, 13-2, in a five-inning mercy rule game that clinched at least a share of the Valley Mission League title for the Golden Cougars (19-11, 11-0).
Most important, Kennedy Coach Andy Rodriguez appreciated Rojas' perseverance. On a team with lots of pitching, Rojas waited for his turn and delivered when called upon.
"I'm happy for Marco," Rodriguez said. "He stuck with us. He never gave up."
Kennedy's hitters had a productive day. Joshua Gonzalez went three for three. Estevan Rodriguez had a two-run single. Rudy Ramirez had a two-run single. JJ Gonzalez had a two-run double. The Golden Cougars sent 13 batters to the plate in the second inning while scoring seven runs. It was a big day, because 18 Kennedy seniors played in their final regular-season home game.
"That was ugly," San Fernando Coach Armando Gomez said. The Tigers made five errors.
The good news for the Tigers (17-8, 10-1) is that they can still gain a share of the league title if they can beat Kennedy on Wednesday at San Fernando.
"We'll be ready," Gomez said.
But Kennedy has its ace, Felix Rubi, ready to go.
In the Marine League, Narbonne clinched the league title with a 3-0 win over San Pedro. Daniel Rocha struck out 14 in throwing a two-hitter.
Banning defeated Gardena 10-0. Michael Ramirez struck out seven in four innings. Jason Yanez and Gabe Ruiz had two hits each.
Garfield clinched the Eastern League title with a 2-1 win over Roosvelt.