Empire League Baseball : Los Alamitos Breaks Out of Slump Against Esperanza With 7-4 Win

Mike Gibson, Los Alamitos High School's baseball coach, wasn't sure if his team would ever beat Esperanza.

Los Alamitos was 0-7 against Esperanza over the last four years and had lost to the Aztecs earlier this season, 5-4.

On Wednesday, however, things were different. Los Alamitos scored six runs in the second inning and then held off Esperanza, 7-4, in an Empire League game at Esperanza.

"We got a monkey off our back, " Gibson said. "It is such a relief to get a win against these guys. I thought the day would never come."

The victory moves Los Alamitos (18-5, 9-3), the fourth-ranked team in the Orange County Sportswriters' Assn. poll, into a second-place tie with fifth-ranked Esperanza (15-6, 9-3). El Dorado (19-3, 10-2 and ranked second) is a game ahead.

The Griffins came out swinging in the second inning Wednesday, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring six runs off Esperanza starter Roger Weems (6-3) before Rob Nay came on in relief.

Mike Kelly, who entered the game with a .460 average, led off the second with a single and scored on Mike Scott's double off the fence in left-center. Sal Mancuso's single advanced Scott to third, and Tony Muser singled up the middle to score Scott.

Then the key play of the game occurred. Winnie Wolf hit a slow roller toward Aztec third basemen Jason Moler. He fielded it but threw wildly to first, allowing both Mancuso and Muser to score. The Griffins scored their fifth run of the inning when Mark Wasikowski doubled to left to drive in Wolf. Kelly's double scored Wasikowski with the sixth run.

Esperanza rallied with four runs in the fifth off Wolf (8-2), but the junior left-hander gave up just one hit over the final two innings for the victory.

Wolf finished with a seven-hitter, striking out five and walking four. It was his second consecutive complete game, after a three-hitter last week against El Dorado.

"He didn't lose his composure today," Gibson said. "He hung in there against a top team. I was proud of his effort."

Los Alamitos scored its final run in the seventh when Todd Gragnano scored on reliever Doug Sanders' wild pitch.

The teams meet again Friday in a 3:15 p.m. game at Los Alamitos.

Cypress 6, Loara 4--Cypress rallied for five runs in the fifth inning, capped by a three-run home run by Steve Sheets. Kevin Smith had a two-run double before Sheets' home run. Jeff Russell (1-0) got the victory and Bret Whidden worked two-thirds of an inning for the save for Cypress (6-16, 2-10).

El Dorado 8, Katella 2--Chris Facione, Chris Olsen, Robert Coons and Rene Ayala had two hits each, including a double for each, for El Dorado (19-3, 10-2). Winning pitcher Pete Janicki (5-1) had six strikeouts and allowed two walks. Katella is 9-13 and 3-9.

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