Knights come alive late

ARCADIA — A potent offense registering 12 hits overcame costly errors late in the game for the St. Francis High baseball squad in the opening game of the Apache Invitational Saturday morning at Arcadia High.

After giving up two game-tying runs in the fifth inning on two errors, the Golden Knights rebounded to re-take the lead in the sixth and opened the floodgates in the seventh en route to a 9-4 win over West Covina in pool play.

“When we took a 2-0 lead early, we went into a lull,” Golden Knights interim Coach Aaron Milam said. “I told the guys if you let this team hang around, they’re going to beat you. Luckily, we were able to take advantage of their mistakes, but that’s going to happen when you put the ball in play.”

St. Francis scored its first two runs on two West Covina passed balls in the first inning. Leadoff hitter David Olmedo-Barrera roped a single on the game’s first pitch. A sacrifice bunt and a grounder to first moved the Cal State Fullerton-bound second baseman to third base before he scored the game’s first run with Tei Vanderford at the plate.

Vanderford proceeded to single and would also advance to third on a walk and an error before scoring on the second passed ball.

The Golden Knights (6-8) mustered up just four hits in the next four innings, but their pitching would hold the lead. Starting pitcher Ryan Garcia and relief pitcher Danny Monarrez combined for a no-hitter through four innings.

Cole Ramseyer relieved Monarrez and pitched into trouble in the fifth inning when the Bulldogs (3-8-1) were able to take advantage of two errors and score their first two runs. The tie ballgame didn’t last long, however, and the junior was able to pick up the win.

With the teams tied at 2, Olmedo-Barrera led off the sixth inning with a double — the team’s first extra-base hit of the game. A Jeff Garavaglia grounder led to a throwing error, which allowed Olmedo-Barrera to score.

Garavaglia advanced to second base on the error, and would be picked up by Tom Scheper’s two-out single to get the two runs back for a 4-2 advantage.

With runners on second and third in the seventh, the Bulldogs intentionally walked Olmedo-Barrera to load the bases and take their chances with Tynan Holmstrom. The strategy proved effective as Holmstrom hit a grounder, but the throw to first base was dropped as Anders Schraer scored to extend the Golden Knights’ lead to 5-2.

“We gave them too many bases,” Bulldogs Coach Drew Lorenger said. “I told the guys that 95% effort is not enough. In baseball, you need 100% to win a ballgame.”

St. Francis scored four more runs in the inning on a two-run single off the bat of Garavaglia and then, with two out, Scheper’s bases clearing, two-run triple gave relief pitcher Richard Alfonso the comfortable, seven-run cushion.

The 9-2 lead would prove insurmountable, as West Covina scored just two runs in the seventh on a two-run double from David Garcia. It would be the team’s fifth and final hit of the game.

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