By Corey Kwok
(South El Monte) – Gabrielino relived the outcome of their previous duel with South El Monte in a 7-6 victory Friday in Mission Valley League play.
The Eagles led 7-2 and were three outs from victory in the bottom of the seventh when déjà vu struck and the Southmen rallied. Just as in the previous game, South safely landed their leadoff batter at first by way of a wild pitch swung at for strike three. Then South took advantage of a pitching meltdown as two runs were walked in and another two on RBI base hits over ten plate appearances to cut Gabrielino’s once comfortable lead down to one.
Like as before, starter Angel Acosta was relieved of pitching duties only to re-enter to successfully shut the door. Reliever Andrew Valdez issued an RBI single to Lalo Acevedo and walks to Isidro Garcia and Mark Acosta that scored runs. South had the bases loaded and the go ahead run perched at second.
Acosta faced Robert Llamas the second time around and struck him out to bring a sigh of relief from fellow teammates and the Eagle faithful for a 7-6 win.
With the victory, Gabrielino took sole possession of first place in the MVL with four games to go. At 8-3 GHS is one ahead of both SEM and Arroyo who each stand at 7-4. The pressure does not ease next week as Gabrielino hosts the Knights.
GHS was aggressive out of the gate, scoring three in the first inning. Leading 2-0 Brendan Campbell drew a walk and Joey Sloane shot a long two out single to right. Nathaniel Sarkar walked to load it up, and Valdez earned an RBI hit-by-pitch that extended the Gabrielino lead to 3-0 after two early runs.
SEM starter Martin Gutierrez escaped that inning with a K and went on to sit down 8 of the next 11 batters scattering two hits. South’s offense responded with a one out rally that began with singles by Robert Llamas and Erik Villa (bunt). Manny Pantoja’s bunt forced a bad throw that scored Llamas to get South on the board. One walk later, Gutierrez flew in Villa (Erik) with a sacrifice fly to center to trim Gabrielino’s lead to 3-2.
Gabrielino rallied for four in the fifth inning to assume control. The surge was highlighted by Keith Clapp’s RBI single and a two run base hit to right by Sarkar to put GHS up 6-2. Valdez’ drive delivered Sloane from third but he ran into a double play.
South workhorse Matt Nguyen replaced Gutierrez for the last two frames and retired all six batters he faced.
For Acosta (Angel) it was business as usual in the strikeout department, pushing his total for this year to 115. He finished with 12 over six and two-third innings. He improved his record to 7-4.
G 3 0 0 4 0 0 0 - 7 7 3
SEM 0 0 2 0 0 0 4 - 6 4 2
G: A. Acosta, Valdez (7th), A. Acosta r/e (7th) / Clapp
SEM: Gutierrez, Nguyen (6th) / Garcia
No major hits (HR/3B/2B)
G RBIs (4): Sarkar 2, Clapp/Valdez 1; SEM RBIs (5): B.Villa/Gutierrez/Acevedo/Garcia/M. Acosta 1
G K’s (12): A. Acosta 12; SEM K’s (5): Gutierrez 5
W: A. Acosta (7-4)
L: Gutierrez (2-2??)
Records – Gabrielino 12-9/8-3; South El Monte 9-7/7-4