Garden Grove junior Cesar Valencia pitched a complete game Friday against Rancho Alamitos.

Garden Grove all alone in first place


GARDEN GROVE – Garden Grove took a large step toward a fourth consecutive league championship Friday with a 5-3 win over Rancho Alamitos.

The Argonauts’ Garden Grove League win at Rancho Alamitos improved their league record to 7-2. Rancho Alamitos is 6-3. The Vaqueros are tied for second place with La Quinta.

Garden Grove beat Rancho Alamitos, 7-1, on Wednesday; Rancho Alamitos beat Garden Grove last month, 1-0.

Garden Grove junior right-hander Cesar Valencia pitched a complete game. He is 3-3 with a 1.91 ERA.

It was a typical game for Valencia, who was first-team all-league last season. He relied on his control, walking only one. Valencia has issued only nine walks in 44 innings.

“My game plan always is to get as many strikes as I can,” Valencia said, “work the count as much as I can and to get as many ground balls as I can.”

Ten of Rancho’s 21 outs were groundball outs.

Senior catcher Cole Monson and junior left fielder Ruben Villagrana drove in two runs each for the Argonauts. Sophomore right fielder Francisco Cadiz had two doubles. Junior third baseman Adrian Vazquez contributed two singles and scored a run.

Alfredo Llort, Sammy Osuna and Jake Santos drove in one run apiece for Rancho Alamitos. Llort was the Vaqueros’ starting pitcher. He got the loss, his first of the season, to make his record 3-1.

Garden Grove (9-7 overall), assisted by two Rancho Alamitos errors, took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Monson had a two-run single in the inning.

The Argonauts made it 4-0 in the fourth inning on Villagrana’s two-run double.

Rancho Alamitos (13-6) scored all of its runs in the fourth on an RBI single by Llort and sacrifice flies by Osuna and Santos.

The Argos scored in the fifth inning, to make it 5-3, when Cadiz doubled and eventually scored on a passed ball.

Garden Grove coach Ricardo Cepeda, also the school’s varsity football coach, called the game “a real team win” and another chapter in the Argonauts-Vaqueros rivalry that has been especially tight in baseball.

“Lots of one-run games,” Cepeda said. “Even the 7-1 game Wednesday was actually close. We had a 3-0 lead in the sixth when they had the bases loaded and we were able to get out of it.”

The top three finishers in the six-team league receive guaranteed entry to the CIF-SS playoffs. Garden Grove League teams will play in Division 3 in the playoffs that begin May 17.

If Garden Grove and Rancho Alamitos are tied for first place at the end of the season, they would be considered co-champions. Garden Grove would go to the playoffs as the league’s No. 1 representative because the Argonauts beat Rancho Alamitos in two of their three league games. That happened last season, when the teams finished with 12-3 league records and Garden Grove had won two of three league games against Rancho Alamitos.

Garden Grove plays Bolsa Grande twice next week, beginning with a home game Wednesday. Rancho Alamitos plays at home against Santiago on Wednesday.

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