Hoover fumes over ball call

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — To the Hoover High baseball team, it was a perfect pitch.

To its opponent, Pasadena, it was the right call.

To the home-plate umpire, it was a ball.

One pitch sent the Tornadoes into a frenzy and helped decide Tuesday's Pacific League showdown against the visiting Bulldogs.

With the bases loaded and a tie score, Pasadena's Rob Lain waited for a full-count pitch from Tornado relief pitcher Will Davis. The sophomore's pitch landed a bit off the plate, bringing home the winning run in a 5-4 Bulldog victory.

"We lost a game on a borderline pitch?" Hoover Coach Joe Cotti said. "Are you kidding me?"

Tornado catcher Cameron Doran, also his team's captain, said the pitch should've undoubtedly been called a strike.

"It was a hard fastball right over the plate," the senior said. "I didn't even have to frame the pitch. It was right there."

To Doran and the Tornadoes (1-7, 0-2 in league), the loss was the toughest of the season.

"To lose on a couple of bloops and a borderline call is terrible," Doran said.

Hoover knew it had several opportunities to win, despite falling behind early.

It trailed, 2-0, entering the fourth inning. To that point, the Tornadoes had gone 18 innings without scoring a run and had just one hit through three innings against Pasadena starter Ives Brown.

But the Tornadoes tied the score when Orlando Marin plated Michael Zalin with a single to left and Juan Carbajal brought home Kevin Mendoza on a single to right.

Hoover chased Brown in the fifth inning after the starter walked the first batter.

Davis was a hit by a pitch and Zalin walked for the third time. Each Tornado scored on Mendoza's two-run single to center.

"We were changing our approach to the plate," Doran said. "We were being more selective and not chasing off-speed pitches."

The Tornadoes held a 4-2 lead until the top of the seventh.

Hoover was still in control, with a runner on and two outs. But the Bulldogs (8-4, 2-1) rallied with consecutive doubles, the second of which was a liner by Brown that brought home Gio Cabral and Chris Rucker and tied the score.

"I wanted to see how our guys would battle in a pressure situation," Pasadena Coach Mike Parisi said. "It was nice to see us come back on the road against a Pacific League team."

With Brown standing at second, Andrew Phillips walked and Angelo Robledo reached on a bunt single to set up Lain's dramatic moment. Will Yost struck out the side in the bottom half of the inning to end the game.

Parisi said the umpire stayed consistent throughout the game. Cotti disagreed, and was visibly upset afterward.

"The kids played lights out," he said. "The next time, we keep the game in our own hands."

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