Two-out hits propel Hoover High baseball in tournament victory

GLENDALE — Scoring two-out runs has been a bane during the first couple of weeks of the season for the Hoover High baseball team.

It’s led to Hoover second-year Coach Brian Esquival addressing the matter with the Tornadoes and looking to change their fate when such situations arise at the plate. Apparently, Hoover got the message.

Hoover scored seven runs with two outs to register a 9-2 home win against Venice on Friday in an L.A. Poly Tournament contest.

“We talked about getting better at it and knowing how deflating it can be to the other team when you get those kind of hits,” said Esquival, whose team improved to 3-2 after splitting the first four games in the Southern California Invitational. “We’ve had a game against Golden Valley in which they got some two-out hits against us.

“I’m glad to see we were able to score some runs that way [Friday].”

Hoover also received a nice effort on the mound from junior pitcher Luis Zamora, who struck out five and picked up his first career complete game.

Venice (1-4) built a pair of one-run leads early before Hoover enjoyed a surge at the plate. Zamora received plenty of support, highlighted by a five-run fourth inning that staked the Tornadoes to a 6-2 advantage. Catcher Fidel Hernandez had a three-run home to left-center field to make it 6-2. All five runs came with two outs.

Hernandez said he’d been looking to snap out of his slump.

“It’s a big confidence boost for me to hit that home run,” said Hernandez, who drove in four runs. “I needed to do something to break out of the slump.”

Venice and Hoover swapped second-inning runs. The Gondoliers took a 1-0 lead on a run-scoring single by Joshiah Destin before the Tornadoes tied it on a two-out single by Kenny Garcia.

After Venice took a 2-1 lead in the third on a fielder’s choice, Hoover scored five runs in the fourth. A groundout by JP Gallegos tied it at 2 and Zamora singled sharply to left to give Hoover a 3-2 lead. Hernandez then capped the inning with his three-run home run.

“I felt good once we got that lead,” said Zamora, a right-hander who retired the last 10 batters he faced. “There wasn’t as much pressure on me and my defense backed me up.

“I didn’t really have to throw many pitches and I was able to get ahead on the count a lot.”

The Tornadoes scored three runs in the fifth. A squeeze bunt by Scott Yzarnotegui made it 7-2. Gallegos extended the lead to 8-2 with a run-scoring single before Hernandez finished the scoring with an RBI single.

Esquival said the Tornadoes received an excellent performance from Zamora.

“Luis did a great job,” Esquival said. “He put the ball exactly where we wanted him to.

“Going the distance will allow us to go with either four or five pitchers on Saturday.”

Hoover will next compete in another tournament game at 11 a.m. Saturday against visiting Arleta.

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