Riverside Arlington High School pitcher Mike Pratt worked his way out of a few jams Saturday night in the Southern Section 3-A baseball title game at Dodger Stadium.
Unfortunately for Pratt, he couldn't work his way out of one in the eighth inning as Fullerton Troy beat Arlington, 7-4, for the first team sports title in its 25-year history.
With the score tied, 4-4, in the eighth inning, Troy catcher Mike Pawlawski, who was 3 for 3, walked and reached third on a single by Steve Shirley. Pratt managed to get the next two batters, but then walked pinch-hitter Tom Wilson, loading the bases.
Pratt, who struck out seven, then walked leadoff hitter Dave Shirota, and Pawlawski strolled home, giving the Warriors a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth.
Chris Robinson (14-2), the brother of San Francisco Giants reliever Jeff Robinson, then helped his cause with a single that scored Shirley and Wilson to give the Warriors a three-run advantage, which they managed to protect.
"I think we played really well in the playoffs," Arlington Coach Gary Rungo said. "We were underdogs and made it this far. We just couldn't take that final step."
The Lions, who finished the regular season in second place in the Ivy League, fell behind, 3-0, after two innings and were always playing catch-up.
They managed to erase the deficit in the fifth, with help from Robinson, who began to show signs of weariness in the fifth.
Arlington's Keith Carroll singled to start the inning. Robinson then threw the first of three wild pitches, sending Carroll to second. Ernie Acosta then singled home Carroll.
Robinson's second wild pitch sent Acosta to second, and a double by Nathan Miller put runners at second and third. Acosta played Miller's hit halfway and had to hold at third. Mark Wensel then singled home Acosta, and on Robinson's third wild pitch, Miller scored to tie it, 3-3.
"I was really tired from the fifth inning," Robinson said. " After that I was going on pure emotion."
The Freeway League champion Warriors took the lead again in the sixth inning when Mike Case, who led the team in home runs (11), hit a Pratt fastball over the 375-foot mark in left field, giving the Warriors a 4-3 advantage.
The Lions, however, fought back once more in the sixth. After Carroll and Acosta hit back-to-back singles, Troy's Kyle Coburn, attempting to throw out Miller at first, threw the ball into the Troy dugout, enabling Carroll to score from second base.
But Robinson, who allowed just one hit through four innings, regained his control, and the Lions' bid to come back for the third time was stifled. Robinson, who set school records in strikeouts for the season (130) and career (195) finished with six strikeouts.
Said King: "We lapsed a little bit tonight and didn't play as well as we have in the playoffs, but we came through when we had to."