NORTHWEST GLENDALE — With an eye on the start of Pacific League and a goal to reach the playoffs for the second straight season, Hoover High baseball Coach Joe Cotti likes what he's seen during the first six games of the season.
With plenty of new faces on board, the Tornadoes have spent the first couple of weeks getting acclimated on the field. The early results have provided Cotti with good vibes.
"They are moving in the right direction and they are learning to play together," Cotti said after host Hoover registered a 12-2 victory against Buckley on Tuesday afternoon in a nonleague game called in the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule. "We have a lot of new faces and it's a team that been battling."
One of the new faces penciled in the lineup is freshman third baseman Luis Zamora. Zamora had a big hand in helping the Tornadoes improve to 3-2-1, as he had two two-out singles and three runs batted in during the first three innings.
After Hoover took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a run-scoring double by Kevin Mendoza and a bases-loaded walk to Jonathan Ramos, Zamora stepped into the batter's box with the bases loaded. Zamora hit a 2-2 pitch toward second base for an infield single that scored a pair of runs to give Hoover a 4-0 advantage.
"I was just trying to drive the ball," said Zamora, who reached base safely three times and turned a double play in the second to get the Tornadoes out of a brief jam. "It helped score some runs."
Hoover took a 5-0 lead in the second on an error by the right fielder. In the third, Zamora sliced a single to right to score Juan Carbajal to extend Hoover's lead to 6-0.
"He battled back in both at-bats and he went to the plate with a plan," said Cotti, whose team finished with 10 hits. "He did a very good job both times."
Thomas Alchermes of Hoover made it 7-0 with a run-scoring single and Ramos made it 8-0 on a groundout in the fourth.
Buckley (2-4) cut the deficit to 8-2 in the fifth on a two-run home run to left by Ian Bernstein, but the Tornadoes capped the victory with four runs in their half of the inning. Orlando Marin drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 9-2 before Fidel Hernandez delivered a two-run double to extend the lead to 11-2. A fielding error by Buckley's third baseman led to the final run.
Marin got the start on the mound for Hoover. The right-hander went five innings, striking out six and yielding six hits for the win.
"He wasn't on, but he battled," Cotti said. "It's just a matter of him believing in his mechanics and pounding his spots."