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Oak Park Takes Fading Fillmore for a Ride, 16-1

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Fillmore High’s baseball team has won 16 league titles, four Southern Section championships and has a 358-123-8 record since 1975.

None of that mattered Friday, when Oak Park routed the Flashes, 16-1, in a Tri-Valley League game.

Fillmore (5-5, 2-2 in league play) committed seven errors and allowed 11 unearned runs. Eagle pitcher Ryan Clement (1-2) threw a one-hitter to compound the Flashes’ misery.

“In all these years I’ve been in this business, this is most frustrated and embarrassed I’ve ever been,” said Tom Ecklund, in his 25th year as Fillmore’s coach.

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Oak Park (8-4, 3-1) remained in second place, a game behind St. Bonaventure.

After two innings, Oak Park led, 7-0, and catcher Gene Holdgrafer had six runs batted in.

In the first, Holdgrafer singled in Scott Christensen and Ali Sheei for a 2-0 lead.

With Oak Park leading, 3-0, and two out in the second, Holdgrafer hit a grand slam that scored Christensen, Sheei and Dan Wasserman.

All of the runs on the grand slam were unearned, courtesy of an error by shortstop George Casarez with two out.

In the third, Casarez switched positions with starting pitcher Tim McLain. McLain promptly committed an error of his own, leading to two more unearned runs.

In five victories, Fillmore committed two errors. In five losses, the Flashes have been stung by more than 30 errors, Ecklund said.

“I don’t know how to get across to these guys,” Ecklund said, rubbing his eyes and sighing. “On Wednesday we didn’t even hit in practice. We just worked on defense.

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“I don’t know what we’re doing but it’s not Fillmore baseball, that’s for sure.”

The Flashes were befuddled by Clement, a senior transfer from Blue Valley Northwest High in suburban Kansas City, Mo.

The 6-foot, 150-pound right-hander used a fastball, curveball and slider to strike out nine and walk four. He retired the side in order in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

“It took me a couple of innings to get going, and then I started getting tired, but I just focused more,” Clement said.

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First-year Oak Park Coach Tyler Nelson said he sympathized with Fillmore. The Eagles struggled early but have been playing well lately.

“The way they were today, that was us two weeks ago,” Nelson said. “We were doing what they’re doing. We were letting the game beat us.”

Holdgrafer was the only Eagle to have more than one hit, but every starter with the exception of No. 9 batter Evan Belfi had one.

Fillmore scored in the fourth when Ryan Lemons walked, moved to second on a fielder’s choice, took third on a passed ball and was singled in by McLain.

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