Poly Wins as Porres Catches Up With Past
Gene Demyon and Jim Wolf of El Camino Real High walked off the field in numbed disbelief, each holding his head with both hands, mainly because the baseball rested in the hands of Poly’s Hans Hekking.
Scant seconds before, with his team trailing by a run, Wolf was off from first base when Demyon belted a one-out drive down the line in deep right field. The ball seemed destined for the fence, if not the street beyond.
Not incidentally, the destiny of both teams also rode on the fortunes of the sky-bound fastball.
“I seriously thought it was all over,” Poly left-hander Greg Nealon said.
Out in right, Poly’s Luis Porres was having flashbacks of last season when in a nearly identical situation he dropped the ball, allowing two runs to score.
“It was scary,” Porres said. “I was running as hard as I could about five feet from the foul pole, and I heard the fans out there yelling ‘You got it, you got it.’ Last year in the playoffs--same team, same play--I dropped the ball.”
This year, however, Porres made a backhand, over-the-shoulder catch of Demyon’s line drive, turned and threw to Hekking at first to double up Wolf for the game’s final out. Now, thanks to the thrilling 2-1 quarterfinal win over El Camino Real at Poly on Friday, the Parrots earned a berth in the City 4-A semifinals. Poly (20-4) faces Chatsworth (a 5-1 winner over Kennedy) on Tuesday.
“That,” Poly Coach Jerry Cord said succinctly, “is how a baseball game is supposed to be played.”
Few would disagree. In a classic pitching duel, Nealon and El Camino Real right-hander Denny Vigo allowed a combined total of six hits. Vigo (3-4) held Poly to two hits while Nealon (10-2) limited the Conquistadores to four.
“This is what playoffs are all about, winning the one-run games,” Cord said. “They have a great ballclub. But so do we.”
Poly, which averages more than 10 runs per game, bore little resemblance to the team that had 18 hits Tuesday in a 19-6 first-round victory over Narbonne. Against Vigo, Poly had to scratch for every run it got.
After El Camino Real (12-8) scored an unearned run off Nealon in the top of the fourth, Poly tied the game in the bottom of the inning without a hit. Danny Gil led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Bill Chavez and later took third on a wild pitch. Designated-hitter Luis Garcia, a 5-5, 210-pound junior, delivered the first of his two runs batted in with a sacrifice fly to left.
Poly took the lead in the sixth. Porres led off with a walk, and Gil bounced a hit-and-run grounder to Conquistadores second baseman Greg Trapp, who booted the ball for an error. After both runners advanced on a wild pitch, Bill Chavez walked to load the bases.
Garcia then drove in the winning run by taking a Vigo pitch in the shoulder.
“I’ll do whatever it takes as long as we keep winning,” Garcia said, flashing a purple bruise. “If I have to take one in the arm, I don’t care, as long as we get to the finals. We only need one more.”
After taking the 2-1 lead in the sixth, Poly needed only three more outs from a tiring Nealon, who retired Ray Sabado on a ground out to open the seventh. Wolf, however, quieted the partisan crowd with his single to center, setting the stage for Demyon’s blast and Porres’ catch.
“The runner must have thought it was over my head,” Porres said.