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Rancho Alamitos closes in on league championship
Planted behind Rancho Alamitos’ outfield fence, in between banners advertising “Latin Gents: Orange County Car Club,” “Dave and Buster’s” and “Ganahl Lumber” are a pair of towering green banners that represent the Vaqueros’ 2010 and 2011 Garden Grove League championships.
With Friday’s 7-0 victory over Garden Grove, the Vaqueros (14-5, 9-2) took a giant step in adding another championship banner in the near future.
“Knowing that we won this game and have two of three over Garden Grove and also two of three over La Quinta is huge,” Rancho Alamitos coach Greg Pines said. “I haven’t said anything to the guys about it yet, but it gives us a huge cushion going forward.”
Senior Jim Roll threw seven shutout innings and Devin Apodaca went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles and an RBI as the hosts avenged Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to the Argonauts (14-6, 8-3).
“Jimmy was able to get his curveball over and work with the good fastball he has,” Pines said. “I just wanted to let him do his thing and get out of the way.”
Roll surrendered three hits, struck out eight and retired all seven leadoff hitters he faced.
“We didn’t want to give up the big hit to (Garden Grove first baseman Rafael) Ceja,” Pines said. “The first time we faced him he hit two home runs, and those were the only runs they got, so we didn’t want to let him beat us.”
The Vaqueros put 15 men on base, scored seven runs, walked eight times (including three hit batters) and scored multiple runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings.
“It’s super important,” Pines said of his team’s ability to score in bunches. “We had a five-run lead and we were still bunting. A lot of it is that I’ve seen small leads go away too many times."
With the bases loaded and one away in the bottom of the fifth, Rancho Alamitos’ Anthony Olivas grounded into what appeared to be an inning-ending double-play.
However, a wide throw to second base by the shortstop rolled into right field and allowed the Vaqueros to double their two-run lead.
The hosts added a third run in the inning and two more insurance runs in the sixth.
“The more runs we get, the easier it is on me,” Roll said.