Two unlikely heroes pushed Kennedy back into the Southern Section baseball playoffs Friday at La Quinta High School.
Sophomore pitcher Chris Clark allowed only four hits and reserve second baseman Nate Perkins hit a run-scoring single to help the Fighting Irish defeat La Quinta, 6-3, clinching a playoff berth.
"It's nice to get back to the dance after missing the playoffs last season," Kennedy Coach Chris Pascal said.
Holding a 4-3 lead after six innings, shortstop R.J. Gonzalez gave Kennedy (17-7, 9-3 in league) a cushion by hitting his third home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field, in the top of the seventh to put the Fighting Irish ahead, 6-3.
Perkins, who entered the game in the fifth inning after starting second baseman Ted Gugler injured his left knee in a collision at second base, hit an RBI single in the sixth to give Kennedy a 4-2 lead. Perkins also made the game's key defensive play.
With runners on first and second and no outs in the bottom of the seventh, Clark got La Quinta's Bobby Ruiz to hit a grounder to shortstop and Perkins took Gonzalez's throw and turned the double play.
Clark started shakily, allowing two walks, two hits, and two runs in the first inning. However, Clark allowed only two hits over the final 6 2/3 innings, finishing with six strikeouts and five walks to improve to 6-3.
Scott Jones had two hits and scored two runs, and Chito Jara had two hits, a run scored, and a run batted in for Kennedy.
La Quinta's Ken Granger had two hits and an RBI single in the first, which gave the Aztecs (14-8-1, 7-5) a 2-0 lead. Zane Parkin hit an RBI single to score Chad Leckie in the sixth to cut the lead to 4-3, but that was as close as the Aztecs came.