NORTHEAST GLENDALE — A comeback didn't look to be in the books for the Vaquero Giants against the Jewish War Veterans/Jewel City Glendale Realtor Cyclones in the Tri-Cities Minor Baseball Tournament opener at Babe Herman Field.
The Giants faced a five-run deficit and were without a hit through two innings Wednesday before they began to chip and eventually run away with a 12-6 victory in five innings. The Cyclones chose not to take the field for their at-bats in the bottom of the fifth knowing a win was out of reach due to a league rule that states no team can score more than five runs in a frame and the allotted time was running out in the game.
"It was awesome, it was just exciting," said the Giants' Alexis Gonsalez, who went two for three with three runs batted in. "We learned a lot thanks to the coaches."
Giants Coach Kevin Ortega said the key to the comeback was the team believing in itself.
"We tell them in the beginning of practice, 'You guys have to play 110% every inning, every game,'" Ortega said. "I guess they didn't want to go home so that's good."
The win advances the Giants (3-16) to advance to the second round of the tournament against the Vaquero Dodgers, who Ortega said are their rivals, Saturday at Babe Herman at 5:15 p.m. and ended the Cyclones' season.
It was Gonsalez who sparked the Giants' rally with his team down, 6-1, headed into the top of the third.
Gonsalez cut the lead to four when he dropped an infield single between the Cyclones shortstop, pitcher and second baseman to score Jean Paul Mendoza, who walked. A wild pitch and ensuing throwing error from the catcher scored two more for the Giants to cut their deficit to two, 6-4.
The Cyclones offense, which came out firing, was shut down in their final two innings at the plate thanks to Giants pitcher Michael Lemus, who struck out five, walked four and didn't give up a hit or a run in two innings on the mound.
"I think they just got a little too over anxious, overzealous and allowed the game to fall apart," Cyclones Coach Tony Iezza said. "It happens, but it's good. It's something we can learn from."
Defense translated to more offense for the Giants, who took a 9-6 lead in the top of the fourth with two walks, three errors and two hits.
Andy Garcia and Gabriel Lara started the frame with consecutive walks for both Giants and two errors — one off a single from Joel Martinez — scored Garcia and Lara to tie the game.
A safety squeeze from Oscar Ramirez scored Martinez and Lemus, who reached on an error, also came home on a throwing error to put the Giants in front, 8-6. The inning came to a close when Jacob Tovar lined a double down the left-field line to score Ramirez and give the Giants their max five runs in the inning.
Gonsalez helped put the game out of doubt when he doubled home two more runs. Andrew Almenza capped the scoring when he walked, stole second and took third and home on consecutive wild pitches.
Offensively, the Cyclones' best inning came in the bottom of the first, as they scored four runs on four walks, a hit by pitch, hit and wild pitch.
Aidan Gonzalez came up with the inning's only hit and one of two hits in the game for his team when he lined a two-strike pitch up the middle to score Justin Whitehead and Nick Salandi, who came home on a throwing error, and put his team up, 2-1. Joey Ruiz and Gonzalez both scored on wild pitches in the inning.
Ruiz, who also pitched two innings of no-hit ball and struck out five, doubled home Salandi in the bottom of the second to finish the Cyclones scoring.