Community College Baseball : Cerritos Wins to Advance to Final
Kevin Evert of Cerritos College spends the first seven or eight innings of most games sitting on the dugout bench, waiting.
Evert’s role is that of pinch-hitter, and the game is usually at stake and the pressure is always on when he is finally called upon by Coach George Horton.
But if this weekend is any indication, Evert is one of those players who thrives on pressure situations. Saturday afternoon, for the second consecutive day, the sophomore from Mayfair High School had a key pinch-hit as Cerritos defeated Laney, 4-0, in a semifinal game of the state championship tournament in John Euless Park.
The Falcons (38-5) will play the College of the Canyons this morning at 11 o’clock for the state title. Cerritos will need only one victory to win the seventh state title in school history, while College of the Canyons will have to beat Cerritos twice since the Cougars have already had one defeat in the double-elimination tournament.
Cerritos left-hander Al Osuna and Laney right-hander Gary Alexander were engaged in a scoreless pitching duel after six innings when the Falcons scored four times in the seventh.
With one out, Quinn Mack singled to left, Tony Trevino walked and Ever Magallanes singled to load the bases.
Enter Evert, who had come off the bench to hit a home run that helped Cerritos defeat College of the Canyons. Batting for Bill Mosiello, Evert grounded Alexander’s first pitch to him into left field, driving in two runs.
Mike Benjamin knocked in the Falcons’ third run with a perfectly executed squeeze bunt, and Evert scored the final run of the inning when Alexander threw a wild pitch.
The four runs were more than enough for Osuna, who shut out the Eagles (33-10) on four hits. The sophomore transfer from Stanford allowed only one Laney runner to reach third base, struck out three and walked none while improving his record to 11-1.
“That was a good time to pitch my best game of the year,” said Osuna, who will be returning to Stanford next season. “I’ve been pitching better and better the last few weeks, and today was a culmination of my progress.” Horton, of course, was impressed with Osuna’s effort, but Evert was the one he was talking about afterward.
“He is the best 10th player in the state,” Horton said. “He could start for anyone else.
“He batted only .264 during the season, but he had more line outs than anyone on the team, and the law of averages is evening out for him in the tournament.”
Evert said he was nervous when he went to the plate in the eighth, but not any more so than usual.
“I’m always nervous when I pinch-hit,” he said. “But I’ve done it a lot this year, and I have confidence in myself.
“He (Alexander) threw me a curve ball. It hung and it was up in the strike zone. It was a good pitch to hit.”
Evert helped Cerritos win once again despite the fact that two of the Falcons’ best hitters, Ron Ewart and Craig Wilkinson, are in deep slumps. Ewart went 1 for 3 Saturday and is 1 for 12 in the tournament. Wilkinson, the South Coast Conference’s Player of the Year, is 0 for Fresno. Wilkinson was hitless in four at-bats against Laney and is 0 for 11 in the tournament. Cerritos had only five hits against Alexander (6-3), none for extra bases.
But even if the slumps of Ewart and Wilkinson continue, Cerritos is in good position to win the tournament. Because Horton had used second-line pitchers to start in the Falcons’ opening-round wins over College of Marin and Canyons, both John Rodriguez (7-1) and Dave Serrano (12-1) will be rested and available today.
“We are in good shape to win it all,” Horton said. “We have Rodriguez, who will probably be our first choice to start today, we have Serrano and we have the whole rest of the staff ready.
“I won’t hesitate to pitch anyone, since this is the last day of the season and they’ll have all year to rest.”
College of the Canyons eliminated Sacramento City, 11-3, Saturday, and later that evening, the Cougars ousted Laney, 7-3, to reach today’s final.