A made-to-order ground ball sizzled toward Alemany High shortstop Rene Rodriguez with one out and the bases loaded in the 10th inning Friday at Notre Dame.
Rodriguez, poised with his toes practically on the grass, speared the shot off the bat of Francisco Dongo with plenty of time to begin an inning-ending double play. However, his throw to the plate skidded between the legs of catcher Dave Castillo, allowing Glen Carson to score and give Notre Dame a 7-6 Mission League victory.
The win moved Notre Dame (13-7-1, 7-3 in league play) a half-game ahead of Alemany (15-8-1, 7-4). The Knights have two games to play, Alemany one.
Rodriguez sat in the dugout for several minutes after the game, his head bowed. "I just couldn't handle the throw, I guess," he said.
Notre Dame starter Chris Garza, who entered the game with an 8-1 record, walked eight in six innings and yielded two runs before retiring a batter in the first inning.
Alemany starter Greg Kmet yielded five walks in the first inning as Notre Dame scored two runs to pull even.
In the second, Kmet threw only three pitches, two of which hit batters. Reliever Mike Corr retired the next two batters, then hit Garza to load the bases. Dave Supple followed with a grand slam to give Notre Dame a 6-2 lead.
"Both pitchers were a little tight," Notre Dame Coach Bob Mandeville said. "They both just didn't have it today."
Relievers were not much better. All told, six pitchers combined for 21 walks. Nine times the count went full and seven times the bases were loaded. Alemany stranded 12 runners and Notre Dame 11 in a contest that lasted 3 hours 45 minutes.
Said Supple: "It was kind of a bad game."
Alemany's Gabe Villasenor blasted a solo home run in the fifth inning and the Indians added two more runs in the sixth. Rodriguez's sacrifice fly drove in Brian Shaw from third and Kevin Tate scored from second on the play after Dongo's throw from center field got past Cesar Martinez at third.
In the seventh, Alemany's Chris Tashima led off with a ground-rule double off reliever Cesar Hernandez, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored the tying run on a double play.
"We were down 6-2 and we battled back against a good pitcher," Alemany Coach Jim Ozella said. "I want to give our guys a lot of credit."
Notre Dame's Rich Igou (3-1) replaced Hernandez in the seventh and struck out two in four innings to earn the win.