Struggling Spartans beat Temple City

After losing the Rio Hondo league opener at Temple City and losing four of the last five, La Cañada High's bats woke up in the rematch against the Rams at home for an 11-8 victory on Tuesday.

Spartan starter Pete Williams pitched a shutout for the first three innings and the offense spotted him seven runs before the Rams scored two runs in the fourth inning.

La Cañada (7-5, 2-4 in league) had 10 batters with at least one hit, as the Spartans offense connected for 13 hits, seven walks and four stolen bases.

David Lee led the way for the Spartans with two runs, three RBIs and a stolen base on 2-for-3 hitting. Max Russell added two RBIs and drew two walks in two at-bats.

While the Spartans jumped out to leads of 7-0 and 9-2, Temple City made things interesting in the fifth inning, when they finally rattled Williams after four solid innings. In the fifth, the Rams (9-4, 4-3) scored four of its five runs in that inning off the starter, cutting the Spartan lead to 9-6.

Williams did not retire any batters in that inning, leading Spartan coach Dennis Ballard to bring in reliever Eric Smith to stop the bleeding — and that he did.

In three innings of work, Smith only allowed two runs (one unearned) and struck out five, earning the save. He had some help in the bottom of the fifth, when the offense added two more runs to lead 11-7.

Williams, who struck out one, walked one and gave up four earned runs in four-plus innings, earned his third win against zero losses. Smith earned his first save of the season.

The week didn't start so well for the Spartans, though, as they lost on Friday to San Marino, 6-5, on a go-ahead bases-loaded sacrifice fly by the Titans' Nick Wilson in the bottom of the sixth.

The Spartans have struggled this season, losing four of their last six games, after starting the season with four consecutive victories.

San Marino, which was unbeaten in its first nine games, ended its two-game losing streak with the victory to improve to 9-2-1 (3-2 in league).

Both teams combined for 18 hits and used seven pitchers in a game full of offensive fireworks. The fourth inning was the only inning that neither team scored a run.

La Cañada took advantage of four San Marino errors to start off with a 2-0 lead in the first inning and twice rally back from one-run deficits. Though it was not enough to hold down the Titans, who scored at least one run in five of the six innings the offense came to bat.

Pitchers on both sides struggled on the mound, as San Marino relied on four pitchers in seven innings. Starter Woody Clark gave up three hits and three runs in three innings of work for the Titans. Yet the Spartans' starter did not fare much better, as Eric Smith faced 13 batters in two innings of work. He struck out one, but also allowed a home run while allowing four runs on six hits.

While both starters struggled, three San Marino relievers limited the Spartans to only two runs after the fourth inning, including shutting out La Cañada in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings.

However, the Spartans put up a fight in rallying from deficits twice in the game.

After leading 2-0, the Titans lit up Smith for three runs to take a 3-2 lead into the third inning. A.J. Kim tied the game for La Cañada with a run-scoring single.

The tie was short-lived when Smith gave up a home run to Wilson in the bottom of the third. Smith was taken out of the game one batter later when he suffered a back injury.

After James Brunette drove in a run in the fifth inning to give San Marino a 5-3 lead, Eric Smith and Luis Carrasquero each scored runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 5-5.

Yet Spartan reliever Max Schaetzle loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, walking three of the first four batters he faced.

With a 1-2 count, Wilson hit a fly ball to center field, allowing Michael Thompson to come home from third just before John Ondrejcka's throw from center field came home.

“We hadn't rallied this year,” said La Cañada coach Dennis Ballard. “It was a tough loss, but we played well. We had a good opportunity with men on base.”

Titan reliever Chevy McGinley allowed one run in two innings of work, while Chris Warren faced two batters and allowed an unearned run. Albert Wu, who only gave up one hit in the seventh inning, faced La Cañada's final five batters and preserved the Titan lead to earn the win.

For the Spartans, Pete Williams pitched the fourth and fifth innings, retiring the first five batters he faced and allowing an unearned run in the fifth inning. Schaetzle suffered the loss after giving up the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.

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