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La Quinta grabs share of first league title since '09
GARDEN GROVE – A sense of euphoria seemed to shoot through La Quinta’s baseball team as a soft line drive found the glove of shortstop Zakkary Morgan for the final out.
The Aztecs engaged in a celebratory dogpile on the infield, having just clinched the team’s first league title since 2009.
Emmanuel Ramirez and Thomas Escobar combined on a four-hitter as La Quinta defeated host Santiago, 3-2, Thursday in the regular-season finale.
La Quinta (15-6, 12-3) will share the Garden Grove League title with Rancho Alamitos (19-6, 12-3), which beat Bolsa Grande, 6-2, on Thursday afternoon.
“It was definitely stressful leading up to it because it was definitely ours for the taking,” Morgan said. “As soon as the ball went in the air, it was just surreal. It’s what we have been working for ever since we got here.”
The Aztecs won eight straight games to close out the regular season.
In the clincher, Ramirez (6-4) allowed just two runs (one earned) over five innings and struck out four. He retired the last 11 that he faced.
Santiago (5-14, 5-10) did not make things easy for the Aztecs, especially starter Randal Adams. He threw a complete game, allowing three runs on three hits, but control was his downfall.
The Cavaliers pitcher issued four walks, one in each of the three innings that La Quinta scored a run. Morgan worked the walk on all three occasions.
La Quinta took advantage of its baserunners, scoring on two sacrifice flies and a balk. Gilbert Napoles’ flyout to center scored Escobar, breaking a 2-2 tie in the fifth.
“There’s no words that I could put into a sentence that would create how much this moment means,” Ramirez said of finishing atop league. “Not just to me, but to the entire team. It’s just such a great feeling.”
Escobar earned the two-inning save. He also had two hits and scored twice.