With St. Genevieve High's Roland De La Maza on the mound Friday in the bottom of the seventh inning, Chaminade's Mike LeCocq crushed a fastball over the left-field fence at Chaminade. The three-run blast drew only mild applause from the Chaminade fans in the overflow crowd and no wild greeting at home plate from his teammates.
What? A final-inning, three-run home run off the near-invincible De La Maza in the biggest game of the year--the game to decide the Santa Fe League championship--treated as if it was just another groundout?
Because by that stage, the fat lady had not only finished singing, she had packed up her music sheets and left the stadium. The Valiants scored seven runs in the last three innings to blow apart the big showdown en route to an 8-4 win.
And if the fat lady had a title for the music she sang, it surely would have been the Song of Roland. De La Maza struck out 11 and scattered five hits in improving St. Genevieve's final league record to 13-0-1, 19-2-1 overall. Chaminade (17-6-1, 11-2-1) goes to the Southern Section 2-A Division playoffs as the league's second-place entry.
De La Maza (7-1) had moments of shakiness, but the junior right-hander survived every tough situation, stranding six runners in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
The slithery efforts of De La Maza bought enough time for the Valiant bats to come alive, producing three runs in the fifth and four in the seventh.
"We had him on the hook several times," Chaminade Coach Steve Costley lamented. "We couldn't get the clutch hit. But he was great. What else can you say?"
Not that the game was a total blowout. For four innings, the teams battled to a 1-1 tie, reminis cent of their earlier 0-0 deadlock in league play.
Chaminade pitcher Greg Baumgartner surrendered only four hits through the first four innings, but after he allowed a leadoff double by Frank Aguirre--his second hit of the game--Costley went to reliever Ken Meyer.
It was a move that agreed with St. Genevieve's bats. Run-scoring singles from Alfonso Gutierrez, who finished with two runs batted in, and Joe Cascione gave the Valiants a 4-1 lead.
Two innings later, Meyer (2-2) surrendered a two-run double to Dan Alvarez. One pitch later, Javier Garcia hit his second home run of the year to make the score 8-1 and effectively bury Chaminade.
"This was a great win for St. Genevieve and the program," Coach Kevin Kane said. "We wanted to prove we were better than Chaminade, which is a great team with a great program.
"And today I think we did that."