GLENDALE — Hoover High starting pitcher Orlando Marin threw five straight balls to start Friday's home baseball game against rival Glendale.
After a walk, a single, a sacrifice and an error, the Nitros held a two-run lead on the Tornadoes and it looked like a long day ahead.
Then Marin got in his groove. After giving up two early runs, the senior captain was dominant. Marin allowed three hits and walked three over five innings while striking seven. Hoover went on to defeat Glendale, 12-2, to close the season in the teams' Pacific League finale. The game was called after five innings.
"A little shaky at the beginning, but he pitched well," said Hoover Coach Brian Esquival, whose team swept the season series with its rival. "I think Orlando is best when he's trusting people to make plays behind him."
What also helped is that Marin's breaking ball started landing for strikes.
Marin explained after the victory that because of the senior day ceremony preceding the game, he was unable to get his typical bullpen work in. It took a couple of batters for him to get into his routine.
"I had to settle down," he said.
While Marin's performance on the mound kept the Nitros at arms length, the Tornadoes put on a hit parade. Hoover finished with 12 runs on 10 hits and six walks against a trio of Glendale pitchers.
No hit was bigger than a two-run home run by Fidel Hernandez in the second inning. With a runner on, the sophomore drove an inside fastball over the left-field fence. The homer was part of a five-run second inning, which followed a four-run first inning. The Tornadoes added three more in the third.
"We have noticed that the last few weeks that the bats have gotten a lot better," Esquival said. "They're starting to swing the bats with a little bit of confidence."
Marin also took care of business at the plate, hitting a two-run double. He also walked twice and scored three runs. Teammate Jonathan Ramos had two hits, a walk, an RBI and three runs scored and Jose Salazar had two singles and drove in four runs.
Josue Aguilera had a double for the Nitros.
"Bats weren't coming," Glendale Coach Chris Funaro said. "[Starting pitcher] Javier [Aguayo] had a rough day. They're a good team. They've got some good young players. They were prepared to play today and we weren't."
Glendale finished the year 3-19 overall and 2-12 in league. The team has only one senior. Funaro will look for his returning players to come with the right attitude and work hard next season.
Hoover concluded its year at 6-17 and 4-10.
"They got better," Esquival said. "They put in the work that's going to allow them to see success down the road."
Finishing the season with a 12-2 win over their rival doesn't hurt.
"Yeah, it helps us out," Hernandez said. "It just prepares us for next season."