A few new faces have done little to disrupt the Canyon baseball team.
Sure, the Comanches have a new coach and, yes, inexperience is abundant throughout the roster. But those things seem to matter little. To win the Century League title, you have to beat Canyon.
Foothill tried and failed Tuesday. The Comanches clobbered the Knights, 9-5, at Foothill to take over sole possession of first place.
A familiar position.
In the past five seasons, the Comanches have won three league titles and finished second twice. That was under veteran coach Hi Lavalle, who retired after last season.
First-year coach Mike Najera, a Canyon assistant since 1979, inherited a team that had only two returning starters. A drop-off would have been understood, but the Comanches (7-2, 3-0) haven’t slipped a bit.
“We had a lot of talent on the lower-level teams,” Najera said. “Our freshman and JV teams did win league titles. But we needed some seniors to step up.”
They did Tuesday.
Corey Cruz, normally a starting pitcher, came on in relief after the Comanches had squandered a 5-0 lead. He shut out the Knights (4-5, 2-1) over the final three innings.
Cruz (4-0), who was 10-0 on the JV team last season, struck out two and allowed only one hit.
Seniors Ricky Judy and Royce Valent also chipped in. Valent had a two-run double and Judy drove in one run with a double in the sixth, when the Comanches broke a 5-5 tie. They had seven extra-base hits in all, including a grand slam by Eric Valent.
“We’ve been putting in extra time in the weight room,” Najera said. “I think it’s making us stronger.”
Foothill helped out, committing five errors. The Knights made four in the second, when the Comanches scored five runs.
In other Century League games:
Santa Ana Valley 3, Villa Park 2--Jeremy McClure’s two-run double off the right-center field wall scored Juan Gomez and Frank Castro to give Santa Ana Valley (5-4, 2-1) a 3-0 lead after Martin Ortega’s single in the first inning scored Johnny Garcia.
Villa Park (4-6, 1-2) took advantage of a walk, a balk, an error and a double and scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to narrow the margin.
Orange 12, El Modena 11--Pat Harris’ two-run triple in the bottom of sixth tied the score, 11-11. Harris then scored on a a wild-pitch to give Orange (3-6, 1-2) the victory. El Modena is 0-3 in league.
In the Empire League:
Katella 2, Cypress 1--Junior Jaret Wright hit a home run in the sixth inning for Katella, giving the Knights a 2-1 lead. In the top of the seventh, Katella’s David Rojo prevented a possible triple, making a leaping catch in right center for Cypress’ second out. The next batter grounded to shortstop to end the game. Katella is 8-2, 2-1. Cypress is 2-2 in league.
El Dorado 2, Los Alamitos 1 (8 innings)--Trent Cuevas had a one-out single to score Blayne Leitner with the winning run for host El Dorado (7-3, 3-0), which is ranked second in Orange County. Leitner was pinch-running for Jim Beck who opened the inning with a walk. Glenn Posein (2-0) pitched the eighth inning to get the victory. Ben Rada (2-3) took the loss for Los Alamitos (3-7, 0-3).
Esperanza 15, Loara 2--Esperanza’s Mark Herlehy had a no-hitter going for 6 2/3 innings before giving up a hit to Mike Boomsma. Marcus Jones homered for Esperanza (7-3, 3-1).
In the Garden Grove League:
Kennedy 7, Garden Grove 1--R.J. Gonzalez hit a solo home run in the second inning and Chris Clark pitched a complete game with four strikeouts for Kennedy (6-6, 2-1).
In the Sea View League:
Saddleback 2, Corona del Mar 1--Erasmo Ramirez (3-1) allowed seven hits and an unearned run, while striking out seven and walking two to lead Saddleback (4-5, 2-1).
Tony Zuniga’s two-out single to left drove home Jerry Heraz with the winning run in the fifth inning. Cam Hoover took the loss for Corona del Mar (4-5, 0-3).
University 14, Tustin 2--Spencer Illingworth gave up three hits and struck out five for University (7-2-1, 1-0-1 in league) against 10th-ranked Tustin. Eric Wei had a double, a two-run home run and three RBIs for the Trojans and teammate Stephan Hagins was three for three with one RBI and scored a run.
Irvine 16, Woodbridge 0--Scott Seal had two doubles for Irvine (8-4, 2-1), which had 15 hits. Woodbridge fell to 9-2 and 1-1.
Santa Margarita 5, Newport Harbor 4--Fritz Maskrey drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in bottom of the seventh inning for Santa Margarita (3-4-2, 2-0-1).
In the South Coast League:
Capistrano Valley 2, San Clemente 1 (9 innings)--With the teams tied, 1-1, Brian Benner hit a RBI single in the ninth inning to give the victory to Capistrano Valley. Benner went three for five, driving in both of the Cougars’ runs. Peter Zamora pitched all nine innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing seven hits for Capistrano Valley (6-2, 2-1). San Clemente (2-2 in league) scored on an RBI single in the sixth by Matt Smith.
Dana Hills 5, Mission Viejo 2--Jon Holm hit a home run and Seth Etherton pitched a six-hitter with 11 strikeouts for Dana Hills (6-4, 1-2).
In the Sunset League:
Ocean View 4, Huntington Beach 2--Pat Gildae (3-0) pitched a six-hitter with four strikeouts for host Ocean View (8-3, 1-2). Gildae, a junior right-hander, has allowed four runs in his first 25 innings this season.
Mike Bellovich hit a home run in the third inning, Justin Brunette had an RBI single and Jeff Buchanan had a sacrifice fly as Ocean View scored three in the first inning.
Servite 4, Westminster 0--John Morinaga pitched a two-hitter with four strikeouts for host Servite (4-5, 1-2). Joe Vargas had a two-run home run in the first for Servite.
Marina 9, Santa Ana 3--Nate Newton had a three-run home run for host Marina (7-5, 2-1). Brad Smith had two hits and drove in two runs and pitcher Jim Sipkovich had 13 strikeouts in five innings for the Vikings.
Edison 5, Fountain Valley 1--Chris Kurz pitched a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts for visiting Edison (6-2, 2-0).