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Cypress advances as Acuna tosses 'redemption' no-hitter
CYPRESS – James Acuna picked a good day to throw his first no-hitter.
Acuna did just that Friday in Cypress’ 3-0 win over Edison in a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 first-round playoff game at Cypress.
“My first one,” Acuna said of the no-hitter. “I felt like we needed a little bit of redemption.”
Cypress had been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs the past two years after winning the CIF-SS Division 2 championship in 2013.
The Centurions (24-7), Empire League champion and seeded fourth in the division, will play at El Dorado in the second round Tuesday. El Dorado beat Valencia of Valencia, 6-4, on Friday.
Edison (14-17-1) was the No. 3 team from the Sunset League.
If there was pressure on Cypress to not repeat the 2014 and ’15 early exits, Cypress coach John Weber felt Acuna made sure the Centurions handled it well.
“The playoffs tend to whittle down some people,” Weber said. “Some people don’t get consumed by it. They rise to the occasion, and that’s what he did today.”
Acuna, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound senior right-hander who signed with Oregon, struck out five and walked four. He is 10-0 with a 1.28 ERA.
His fastball had zip on it from the first inning.
“I was starting them off with fastballs, and later in the game I started throwing the slider as first pitch more,” Acuna said. “Later in the game, I started putting them away with the slider.”
Acuna pitched the way Weber knew Acuna could pitch.
“He hasn’t been great all year long,” Weber said. “He’s been good, but he hasn’t been ‘James Acuna-great.’ Then, in the most crucial game, he does a phenomenal job.”
Cypress scored twice in the second inning and once in the third.
Isaiah Parra got the second inning started by pushing a ground ball single through the first base-second base hole. Jason Baca followed with a shot to left field that one-hopped the fence for a ground-rule double. Ezele Wicks, the Centurions’ No. 9 hitter, smashed a triple off of the fence in left-center to send home Parra and Baca.
In the third inning, Dominic Fletcher doubled, stole third base and scored on Aaron Lizarraga’s single to make it 3-0.
That was more than Acuna needed.
The no-hitter was Acuna’s 25th career victory in a Cypress varsity uniform. That surpassed the record of 24 wins set by Adam Wilk.
Wilk also pitched a postseason no-hitter for Cypress. That happened in the first round in 2005. That year, Cypress won a CIF-SS championship.
An omen? Maybe.
For now, the Centurions and Acuna were happy to get past the first round.
“It feels great,” Acuna said. “No better way to do it.”
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