Glendale gives way to Spartans in opener

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — It took one time through the lineup for the La Cañada High baseball team's offense to catch fire.

Glendale, on the other hand, struggled at the plate all game without its No. 4 and 5 hitters and against La Cañada junior pitcher Alex Bang, who racked up 11 strikeouts and gave up one run in six innings of work on Tuesday in a 7-1 Spartans victory at home.

It was a different experience for Bang, who doesn't see himself as a strikeout pitcher.

"I just made sure to throw strikes," said Bang, who gave up just four hits and four walks. "I just look to get grounders and let my team make the plays, but today it just worked otherwise."

Glendale Coach Jesus Osuna said his team was tentative and nervous without its No. 4 and 5 hitters — Brandon Keen and Evan Norton, respectively — in the lineup.

Keen was out with pneumonia and Norton may end up missing half the season with a broken hand.

"We have been working hard on hitting, two or three hours a day, and today it didn't show," Osuna said. "[The guys] are kind of nervous with two of our key players out so that hurt us a lot today."

La Cañada (3-3) started slow offensively with just one hit through three innings, but really locked in the second time around, finishing with 12 hits for the game. Four Spartans — Clayton Herrmann, Scott Moulin, Derek Georgino and Jacob Yonan — had two-hit days while seven players drove in runs.

"I told the guys this is the first game where everything looked good," La Cañada Coach Dennis Ballard said. "It was good to see. It feels like we're at that spot we wanted to get to and it took us six games to get there."

It was the Nitros who got on the board first, though, when Ryan Vargas drove home Rafael Rios, who reached on a bloop single and finished the game two for two, with a two-out double to right field to give Glendale a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the second inning.

The lead didn't last long as La Cañada's offense lit up Glendale's pitcher in the bottom of the fourth.

Anthony Mizrahi started the frame off swinging at the first pitch and sent a line drive over the head of the Nitros center fielder for a stand-up triple.

The Spartans kept it going with three more hits — a RBI single from Georgino, RBI double from Mitch Russell and single from Jacob Yonan.

La Cañada's Mateus De Faria brought Russell home from third with a squeeze bunt and Herrmann put the Spartans out in front, 4-1, with a RBI single between third and shortstop.

"We just waited back a half-second longer and we jumped on top of it," Georgino said. "We were ahead of him a bit in the first inning and we started hitting as a team. We weren't streaky anymore, everyone on our team hit today and that helped us out."

There was another big inning for La Cañada in its half of the fifth as four more hits increased its lead to 6-1.

Glendale threatened to make it a game in the top of the sixth as it loaded the bases with two walks and a one-out, line-drive single from Sean Harris.

Bang bounced back and struck out the next batter for two outs. The threat was ended when La Cañada second baseman, Yonan, dived and snagged a soft line drive off Vargas' bat.

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