Jim Rawls, Garden Grove High School coach, must find it comforting that no matter where his baserunners may roam or his infielders throw, the right arm of Mark Kiefer is usually enough to keep things in line.
Kiefer overcame some shoddy play by his teammates Friday to pitch a two-hit, complete game against Saddleback and lead the Argonauts to a 2-1 win in the first round of the 2-A Southern Section playoffs at Garden Grove.
Kiefer (9-2) struck out nine--he has struck out 79 batters in 60 innings--and retired Saddleback in order in the first, third, sixth and seventh. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment against the Roadrunners was that he did not lose his composure.
Consider that Saddleback's only run scored without help of a hit, and that the player who scored it--third baseman Neil Carter--got on base after striking out.
Kiefer's third-strike pitch was dropped in the second inning, and catcher Jerry Canada's throw to first base was high and drew first baseman Jeff Kanegae off the bag. Carter moved to second on a passed ball and scored on an error by shortstop Don Lockman.
Garden Grove had scored two runs in the first inning, two runs that should have been three and might have been four, save some base-running blunders.
Kanegae led off the inning with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Mike Ferguson before he moved to third on a passed ball. Kiefer, who came into the game batting .433, hit a hard ground ball to shortstop Danny Ontiveros, with Kanegae breaking for the plate.
Ontiveros threw out Kanegae for the second out and Kiefer was safe at first on the fielder's choice. But Kanegae's mistake was soon forgotten when Canada drove in Kiefer with a triple to right-center.
Canada scored on shortstop Don Lockman's single to right that Saddleback's George Saldana let roll under his glove, allowing Lockman to go to third. Lockman appeared to score easily when designated hitter Tim Gjertsen appeared to hit a double to right.
But Gjertsen had forgotten to touch first base and was ruled out. Lockman's run was nullified, and Rawls was left scratching his head.
"With all the hitting we did that inning, I said, 'How many did we get . . . two?' " Rawls said. "But we had some base-running errors and those things will kill you. Luckily, Kiefer was outstanding today, so we could make some mistakes."
Bob Mangram, Saddleback coach, said Kiefer is the best pitcher he's seen this season, but his own pitcher, Jeff Rowe, acquitted himself nicely.
Rowe (8-3), named the co-Most Valuable Player in the Sea View League with University shortstop Al Contrera, allowed just two hits after the first inning. It was his first loss as a starting pitcher this year.