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De La Maza, St. Genevieve Finally Beat Notre Dame

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Times Staff Writer

It took longer than he had hoped, but for Roland De La Maza of St. Genevieve High, Wednesday’s 8-2 victory over host Notre Dame in a San Fernando Valley League baseball game was well worth the wait.

A three-sport standout at St. Genevieve, De La Maza had never played for a team that had beaten Notre Dame. According to his figures, he had played against Notre Dame in seven or eight previous athletic contests (three or four times in football, twice each in basketball and baseball) and been on the losing team every time.

“It feels great to finally beat these guys,” said De La Maza (7-2), who gave up three hits, walked two batters and struck out six. “I was beginning to wonder if I ever would.”

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Not only did De La Maza--an All-Southern Section 2-A Division selection as a junior--shut down the potent Notre Dame offense, he had three hits and four runs batted in to spark the Valiants’ offense.

In the first inning, his two-out bases-loaded single gave St. Genevieve a 2-0 lead and his one-out, bases-loaded single in the seventh expanded a five-run lead for St. Genevieve (9-5, 3-0 in league play).

Struggling with a .200 batting average coming into the game, De La Maza snapped out of his slump with a three-for-four effort against Notre Dame sophomore Steve Colella (4-3), who gave up six hits, struck out four and walked one.

Notre Dame (15-3, 1-2) did not help its cause by committing nine errors--including four in the first inning and two in the second--which led to seven unearned runs.

The loss was the second in the past three games for the Knights, who were the overwhelming favorites to win the San Fernando Valley League title when league play began last week.

“We’ve just got to relax,” Notre Dame Coach Bob Mandeville said. “We’ve got a lot of good players. Today was not the result of a lack of practice or a lack of ability. . . . We’ve got to shrink our heads a little and get back to the basics.”

It didn’t take long for the Knights to self-destruct.

In the first inning, St. Genevieve leadoff hitter Joe Cascione reached base when third baseman Vinnie Orlando’s throw pulled Kevin Milligan off the bag at first. Mike Cassidy followed with a sacrifice bunt that catcher Bobby Hughes bobbled, putting runners on first and second. Herman Merchan followed with a walk to load the bases.

After Carlos Concha struck out and Cascione was thrown out at home on a force play when Josh Smith grounded to third, it looked as if Colella might escape.

However, De La Maza followed with his single, went to second when the ball got by center fielder Kevin Crosby and scored, along with Smith, when second baseman Mickey McGuigan took the relay and threw the ball into foul territory along the first-base line after trying to hold up on the throw to home.

Notre Dame dug itself further into a hole in the second inning when two errors put runners on first and third with two outs before Merchan tripled.

Notre Dame narrowed the deficit to 6-1 in the bottom of the second when Milligan singled, moved up on a pair of ground outs and scored on a wild pitch.


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