PASADENA — It took three pitchers in the final inning, but the St. Francis High baseball team eventually prevailed in its first game of the Chino Tournament at Jackie Robinson Field in Brookside Park Saturday.
The Golden Knights led by five runs going into the top of the seventh inning, where opponent Los Altos made things interesting, scoring three runs, but ultimately not enough as it left the bases loaded to end the game.
St. Francis Coach Brian Esquival was forced to go to his second relief pitcher of the inning in sophomore Daniel Monarrez, who recorded two of the three outs to end the threat and secure the 9-7 win for the Golden Knights.
"[Ryan] Garcia was solid but he was up there in pitches," said Esquival, who got six strong innings from his starter before first going to Chris Longo out of the bullpen in the seventh. "Longo has been struggling and did again today, so we decided to go to the sophomore to get out of the inning."
Garcia picked up the win, giving up three earned runs and allowing six hits in an outing that saw good run support from the offense, which jumped on Los Altos freshman pitcher Esteban Ortega.
The Golden Knights (5-4) were aggressive with the bats early and scored three runs in the first inning. Dave Hubinger answered the Conquerors' run in the top half with a single that plated Jefferson Nolan. Anders Schraer followed with another single, scoring Jeff Garavaglia and Tei Vanderford.
St. Francis got some help from the Conquerors (4-5) during the next two innings, scoring four runs on wild pitches and throwing errors.
Garcia settled down after giving up three hits and one run in the first and didn't give up an earned run until the fifth, where Steven Camberos hit a two-run double to cut the Golden Knights' lead down to 7-4.
But the Golden Knights didn't let up at the plate and scored one run apiece in the fifth and sixth innings. With two out in the fifth, Phillip Dezotell hit a triple and later scored on a passed ball.
Then in the sixth, Schraer blasted a double that brought in Hubinger.
Camberos took over for Ortega on the mound in the fifth. Ortega gave up five hits in his four innings of work.
"When they throw a freshman out there, you have to score nine," said Esquival, whose squad recorded eight hits. "You can't afford to let him hang around and make him feel like he deserves to be out there."
"We hit the ball well though. We had a lot of fly balls and pop ups, so that's going to be something we'll work on."
St. Francis resumes league play Tuesday night as it hosts Crespi and will continue the Chino Tournament on Saturday with Serrano in its second game.