After watching Esperanza High School score in every inning of a 12-5 victory Friday, Los Alamitos Coach Mike Gibson didn’t hesitate to offer an opinion.
“We’ve seen every team in the league, and they’re definitely No. 1,” Gibson said. “That’s a good-hitting team that’s going to score runs against anybody at any time.”
Esperanza (9-2, 5-0 in league) gained sole possession of first place in the Empire League and made it look easy. Third baseman Keith McDonald got things going with a three-run home run to center in the first inning.
Every Esperanza starter reached base safely. McDonald drove in four runs with two hits and Dan Redington had three hits and two RBIs.
Esperanza also proved resourceful, twice scoring without benefit of a hit as the Aztecs stole six bases and executed three sacrifice bunts perfectly.
“You look up and see 12 runs and think we’re mashing the ball,” Coach Mike Curran said. “But we did the little things today, like sacrificing a runner into scoring position and then scoring him with a fly ball.
“We can’t muscle-up with Los Alamitos. Their first four batters are strong power hitters who are capable of extra-base hits every time they come up to the plate.”
Esperanza, which averages 9.5 runs per game, has two muscle men of its own in Redington and McDonald.
Los Alamitos (5-6-1, 4-1) had a four-game winning streak ended and managed only five hits off Shade Summers (5-0) through five innings. Redington earned the save by retiring the side in the sixth and seventh.
Summers got off to a shaky start, allowing a lead-off homer to Todd Gragnano and then walking four consecutive batters in the first inning. But he didn’t allow another run until an error by Redington helped Los Alamitos score three times in the fifth.
“I was pleased the way Shade battled back in the first inning and then got us out of a jam in the fifth,” Curran said. “He’s only a junior, but he gets more seasoning with every start.”
Gibson said Los Alamitos’ inability to take advantage of Summers’ wildness in the first inning was the turning point.
“We did things in reverse today,” Gibson said. “We got a homer and then four walks. Now, Esperanza is in the driver’s seat for the league title.”
In other league games:
El Dorado 4, Katella 2--Gar Vallone had two hits and one RBI to lead visiting El Dorado (8-3, 2-3). Katella took the lead on Jeff Evans’ two-run triple, but El Dorado scored once in the second, twice in the third and once in the fifth. Katella is 2-3 in league.
Loara 7, Cypress 4--The Saxons (3-9, 2-3) rallied from a 4-1 deficit for the victory at Loara. Cypress (1-11, 0-5) led, 4-2, after three innings, but Loara scored four times in the fourth. Charlie Gibson had a two-run double in the inning. Gibson also pitching the final three innings in relief of Joey Gaudio for the save. Kyle Poffenberger and Erich Munzner each had two hits for Loara.