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San Fernando Rolls Up Sleeves for Comeback Win

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

San Fernando is a blue-collar town, and the way Steve Marden looks at it, his San Fernando High baseball team should be, too.

In fact, the Tigers’ coach lectures his reserves until he’s blue in the face that if they work hard enough, they’ll get their chance.

“Playing time isn’t earned during games,” Marden said. “It’s earned in practice on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

By virtue of his recent work--especially in San Fernando’s 9-7 win over Cleveland in a North Valley League game at San Fernando on Thursday--junior reserve Fernando Ortega might be due for a closer look.

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With San Fernando trailing, 7-5, Ortega came off the bench to deliver a pinch three-run triple in the bottom of the sixth to key a six-run rally that handed the Tigers (5-1-1, 2-1-1 in league play) their first win in three games--despite scoring 33 runs in that span.

While it might be difficult to crack a lineup that scores so many runs, Marden said that Ortega took a step in the right direction.

“He’s been hitting the heck out of the ball in practice,” Marden said. “He deserved the opportunity to swing the bat.”

And swing the game to San Fernando’s favor, although the Tigers played poorly, committing four errors and walking eight Cleveland batters.

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The Cavaliers (2-1-1) scored two runs on one hit to take a 7-3 lead in the top of the sixth when the Tigers made three errors.

The Cavaliers erased a 3-0 San Fernando lead in the fifth with five runs, three driven in on a two-out double by Pat Bryant.

Cleveland right-hander Mario Valencia, however, was unable to hold the lead in the sixth.

Valencia walked Jess Romero and Richard Ortiz to open the inning and Bobby Corrales followed with a single to right to drive in Romero. John Najar then walked to load the bases.

Shortstop Tony Holiday (1-1) switched places with Valencia and promptly walked Sanchez to force in another run and pare the Cleveland lead to 7-5.

“That’s what happens when you only have three pitchers. Holiday can’t really get warmed up and he’s thrown right in the middle of it,” said Cleveland assistant Marty Siegel, who ran the team for Coach Ray Todd. Todd was hospitalized Wednesday after suffering heart palpitations.

Holiday must have thrown the ball in the middle, too, because Ortega slammed a triple to right-center to give the Tigers an 8-7 lead. Ortega scored moments later when Valencia kicked a ground ball at short.


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