MONROVIA — While neither the La Cañada High or Monrovia baseball teams could claim they hit exceptionally well in clutch situations in Wednesday afternoon’s Rio Hondo League meeting, the Spartans walked away with two distinct advantages.
La Cañada secured just enough hits and, more importantly, notched a pivotal 3-2 road victory in the first of three meetings between the rivals.
The Spartans (9-5, 2-1) finished one for 12 with runners in scoring position with two RBI and stranded nine baserunners, while Monrovia (7-6, 2-2) was one for six in the same situation with an RBI and six runners left on the base paths.
That frustration played out in the seventh inning for both teams.
Monrovia trailed, 3-1, heading into the bottom of the seventh versus Spartans starting pitcher Justin Lewis, who coaxed a popup to start off the inning.
Wildcats catcher Jacob Ramos kept his squad’s hopes alive by doubling to center field and advanced to third on a groundout.
Monrovia then produced its first hit with runners in scoring position on an infield run-scoring single from Juan Quinonez (three for three with an RBI) that chased Lewis.
Spartans Coach Alex Valadez pulled Lewis in favor of George Steckbeck, who fanned Devin Ayala to close out the game.
Only a half inning earlier, the Spartans had a chance to put the game out of reach.
David Yoon and Jacob Yonan singled to lead off the inning and then advanced to second and third on a sacrifice bunt from Lewis that the Spartans senior beat out for a single.
With the bases loaded and no outs, though, the Spartans only plated one run on a fielder’s choice from Johnny Selsor (one for four with an RBI and double) to take a 3-1 advantage.
Selsor initially helped La Cañada jump ahead, 2-0, in the fourth when he and teammate Travis Clark led off the inning with doubles.
Clark eventually scored in the inning on a wild pitch from hurler Nick Esparza.
Prior to the fourth inning, both teams only combined for three hits.
La Cañada did have its chances, though, as the Spartans advanced a man to third in five of seven innings, while only scoring twice.
Lewis picked up the win for the Spartans, allowing two runs on six hits with six strikeouts against two walks.
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.