GLENDALE — While the Glendale Angelenos baseball team certainly didn’t deliver an early blow, perhaps the biggest positive for the squad Friday evening is that the host avoided a knockout punch late, despite an unexpected blow to the head.
The Angelenos scored the game’s first four runs and then held on with just enough pitching and defense in defeating visiting Team Victory of Santa Clarita, 4-3, in a California Summer Collegiate Baseball game nearly marred because of a late ejection.
“It was a good win and a good chance to see how our pitchers performed in important relief roles,” Angelenos skipper Tony Rivera said. “I was confident we would get the win and confident that our team would be able to make the big plays.”
Perhaps the biggest sequence of plays took place in the top of the eighth inning.
Team Victory (5-2) trailed, 4-1, but received the break it needed when infielder Martin Orozco Jr. reached base to lead off the inning on a throwing error.
The following batter, catcher Greg Cole, walked versus Glendale Community College reliever Carl Daniels, who picked up the first out of the inning after a sacrifice bunt from Nick Vigo moved runners to second and third.
Team Victory’s next batter, outfielder Justin Phelps, then delivered a big blow when the College of the Canyons player laced a first-pitch fastball into the left-center gap, scoring two runs and bringing the visitors within 4-3.
While an Angelenos error helped open the wound, a solid defensive effort stopped the bleeding as an 8-6-5 relay ended with a brilliant throw from Reuben Padilla to Ryan Barbarin, who applied a swipe tag on Phelps, who was looking to extend his extra-base hit to a triple.
The out at third proved critical as Team Victory never placed another player in scoring position again.
“The defense was really big today,” Angelenos starting pitcher Keaton Leach said. “They really bailed us out.”
Leach, who threw four scoreless innings to begin the game and allowed only one hit with three strikeouts, had a prime view in the bottom of the eighth when the Angelenos (5-2) were denied a run on a great Team Victory 8-6-2 inning-ending relay.
Yet, the talk wasn’t about the impressive defensive play, but about the out in general, as Glendale’s Bobby Stahel tried to score on a two-out double from Padilla.
Stahel went high and hit Team Victory catcher Cole in the head and, in the process, bowled over Cole, who held onto the ball and immediately jumped to his feet and stared at Stahel.
The Team Victory bench cleared and Stahel was ejected.
“It was just a spirited play, nothing more,” Rivera said. “Stahel comes from USC and maybe he didn’t understand that we’re not using big-league rules here. We’re using NCAA rules and you can’t do what he did.”
Stahel’s out took away a potential RBI for Padilla, who was already having a banner evening.
Padilla, who was three for four, smacked his first double of the game in the sixth that scored teammates Tony Iezza and AJ Fritts to give Glendale a 4-0 lead.
“I wasn’t looking for a specific pitch, I was just looking to hit,” Padilla said. “I just didn’t think about anything else or let anything be a distraction and just hit.”
Padilla also singled in the fifth and scored on a sacrifice fly from Edgar Montes in the fifth to put Glendale up, 2-0.
The Angelenos scored their first run in the first inning on a two-out RBI double from Sako Chapjian (three for four with a double and RBI) that plated Stahel.
The clutch hits for Chapjian and Padilla were just enough for a Glendale team that batted four for 15 (.267) with runners in scoring position, while stranding 10.