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Sonora battles back but falls to Kaiser
FONTANA - Kaiser of Fontana baseball coach Mike Spinuzzi knew his team didn’t get a typical opponent for a No. 2 seed in the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs.
“That is a really good team,” Spinuzzi said of Sonora. “We knew they’d be tough. They’re from Orange County, their coach has been there a long time.”
So even when Kaiser jumped out to an early lead, Spinuzzi wasn’t surprised when the Cats had to hold on to beat Sonora, 6-5, Thursday afternoon at Kaiser High.
Kaiser (24-3) advances to host Ramona of Riverside in the second round.
Sonora, which won a wild-card game on Tuesday, ended its season at 16-16.
“We feel like if we don’t make any errors, we’re going to win the game,” Kaiser pitching coach Rob Ridge said.
That’s what Kaiser did, but it was far from easy.
The Cats led, 5-0, after two innings and 6-2 after three, but it got tight at the end.
The Raiders’ Max Wilkinson delivered a three-run single with two outs in the sixth inning to close the gap to 6-5 against Kaiser starter Armando Duenas.
“He was right on the edge,” Spinuzzi said of Duenas coming out. “But then he struck out their best hitter (Dylan Villalobos).”
Duenas retired all three hitters in the seventh on groundouts to shortstop Oscar Rocha, who threw them all out on close plays at first.
That finished a game in which Kaiser won by making fewer mistakes.
“We had errors, baserunning mistakes and we didn’t execute (on offense),” Sonora coach Patrick Tellers said. “That doesn’t add up to a win.”
Sonora had five hits in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but only two of those hits scored runs.
“A lot of those had to do with who the baserunner was,” Tellers said.
Kaiser jumped on Villalobos early, with Jason Lopez’s bad-hop single keying a two-run first and Ochoa’s two-run double keying a three-run second. Carlos Sernas’ second double led to a run in the third.
“We tried to be aggressive early against his fastball,” Spinuzzi said. “But then he went to his off-speed stuff and we had trouble adjusting.”
Sonora had an error and passed balls early, a runner thrown out at third on a grounder to shortstop, a runner picked off at first base, and another runner thrown out at the plate on a grounder to shortstop.
“We lose only four seniors,” Tellers said. “Hopefully, we’ll be back strong next year.”