Esperanza scores in 7th to beat Damien


ANAHEIM - In a game marred by miscues, Esperanza's baseball team was able to secure a win, 4-3, at home against Damien of La Verne in a Newport Elks Tournament game Thursday.

In the bottom of the seventh, Aztecs junior Ryan Rafferty hit the ball hard to shortstop. The defender couldn’t handle the ball and Steven Rodriguez scored the winning run.

“I told them find a way to win, find a way to get it done and they did,” Esperanza coach Mike Curran said.

Esperanza lost a 3-1 lead in the previous inning after a failed attempt at a double play. Aztecs shortstop Haydon Nix missed on his toss to the second baseman, allowing two Spartans runners to score.

“We’re learning. We’re a young group, but we don’t lack energy and we don’t lack desire,” Curran said. “They battled like a champ and it was good to see that."

Damien scored the first run on a wild pitch after Kalani Matton tripled to center field in the top of the third.

In the bottom of the third, the Aztecs took their first lead after a dropped line drive by center fielder Isaiah Paige allowed two runs.

In the fourth, Esperanza junior Cain Allen singled to right field. When the Damien pitcher attempted to pick him off at first, the ball was overthrown and Allen advanced to third. First basemen Reilly Lamp then grounded out to first, but a mishandle fielding the ball allowed Allen to score.

“This is a good group, they go full speed and they’ll make you pay if you make mistakes and that was great,” Curran said of his opportunistic group."

Esperanza starting pitcher Blake Schriever had six strikeouts in five innings and earned the team's second win of the season.

The Aztecs travel to Corona High on Saturday for a Newport Elks game. Corona defeated Palm Desert, 13-4, on Thursday.

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