SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — It took a few innings for Hoover High pitcher Cameron Doran to adjust to the high mound on a warm afternoon
Doran didn't appear comfortable at first when he and the Tornadoes competed against cross-town rival Glendale in a Pacific League contest Friday. However, Doran couldn't have written a better script in terms of finishing on a positive note to get the best of the Nitros.
Doran struck out 11 and allowed three hits in a 125-pitch effort to power visiting Hoover to a 5-3 victory against Glendale.
"I had a lot of problems with the mound early and it's higher than I'm used to," said Doran, a senior right-hander who gave up three runs in the third inning before settling down nicely to help Hoover improve to 3-11 and 1-4 in league. "I had some problems finding the strike zone early on.
"Then, I started to get ahead in the count with my fastball and I was then able to also use all four of my pitches effectively to keep them off balance."
After the third, Glendale (3-5, 1-4) got three runners on base against Doran (1-3).
Hoover Coach Joe Cotti said Doran got stronger as the game moved along.
"He pitched probably his best game of the year," Cotti said. "He never stopped battling and the mound was like a cliff to him early in the game.
"He had a hard time finding his spots early, but he didn't make any excuses. He came back and regrouped nicely."
The Nitros got to Doran with a three-run third. Mark Garcia delivered a two-run double to right to give Glendale a 2-0 lead and Garcia scored on a single by Guillermo Morales to make it 3-0.
Doran then got out of the jam by striking out two batters in a row with runners on first and second.
"That was very big right there," Doran said. "If we could get the lead, I felt like my confidence and the team's confidence would pick up."
It certainly did for the Tornadoes, who have won two in a row after losing six straight.
Hoover staged its comeback by scoring five runs in the fifth against Glendale starting pitcher Daniel Aragon (1-2).
Aragon, a left-hander, held the Tornadoes at bay through four innings. He limited Hoover to four hits and notched five strikeouts, but ran out of steam in the fifth
Anthony Cuccinelo hit a two-run double over the head of the center fielder, who appeared to misjudge the trajectory of the hard-hit ball, to bring the Tornadoes to within 3-2. Doran knotted the game at 3 on a grounder to shortstop.
The Tornadoes took a 4-3 lead on an error by the second baseman before Thomas Alchermes drew a bases-loaded walk from reliever Jason Marquez to close out the scoring.
Glendale Coach Jesus Osuna said Aragon began to tire in the fifth.
"He started to have a little less zip on his fastball, but he wanted to keep battling," Osuna said. "After he gave up those first couple of hits, I had to make a pitching change.
"We've just had that one bad inning in a game quite a lot. Maybe that has to do with confidence. We tried to get back into the game late, but [Doran] did a good job."
Glendale's last-ditch effort came in the seventh. Doran retired the first two batters on grounders to shortstop. He then walked Dillion Howard, but Doran buckled down to strike out Morales.
"It's always a big game because it's a rivalry," Doran said. "It's especially great when you can win the close game."
Cuccinelo and Doran had two hits apiece for Hoover.