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El Dorado battles but loses in National Classic final
The Golden Hawks lose to Crespi, 2-1, in nine innings.
FULLERTON – Baseball is a great game for second-guessing, but El Dorado coach Dave Moore was not going to second-guess himself.
Crespi of Encino had runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tied Diamond Sports National Classic championship game Thursday at Cal State Fullerton. Moore elected to have left-handed pitcher Kyle Twomey pitch to Crespi left-handed hitting Jack Colick. Colick lifted a fly to center, where El Dorado center-fielder Adam Velez drifted a couple of steps to his right to make the catch.
Scott Heineman, the Crespi runner on third, got a great jump and sped toward home. Velez's throw skipped a bit to the left of Golden Hawks' catcher Drew Luther, and Heineman slid across the plate safely for the winning run in Crespi's 2-1, extra-innings victory.
Moore said the trends of the game and the lefty-vs.-lefty situation dictated that El Dorado pitch to Colick. The Hawks had turned three double plays – crisply, too – and they have strong arms in the outfield, with Velez' being the best.
"We'd been turning double plays, and they hit it to the right guy," Moore said. "But the throw was just a little off line."
El Dorado (8-8) was in its fourth championship game of the 21 years in the National Classic. Like the prestigious tournament's other co-host, El Dorado has played in every National Classic, but still has not won one.
"It's just great to be in the National Classic every year, to get the opportunity to play nationally ranked teams," Moore said. "We'll be a better team from this."
El Dorado went into the National Classic with a sub-.500 record, and was not in the "team to watch" category. They beat a couple of good teams to get to the championship game, including a second-round victory over Peninsula of Palos Verdes Estates, which had beaten Mater Dei in the first round, and then Edison in the semifinals.
Crespi (14-3) is the No. 1 team in the CIF-Southern Section's Division 2 rankings.
The Golden Hawks went 3-1 in a tough tournament, but Moore lamented a lost opportunity to perhaps go 4-0. They had the bases loaded with one out in the first inning, but a double play – Trevor Velez hit a sharp liner that was snagged by Crespi's UC Irvine-bound third baseman Austin Walker, who stepped on third for the third out – ended that threat.
Crespi took a 1-0 lead in the second. El Dorado tied it with a run in the sixth, when Ryan Conlon was hit by a pitch, pinch-runner Tyler Saki advanced to second base on Chris Rivera's sacrifice bunt, and scored on Adam Velez' single.
El Dorado got two-out singles in the eighth and ninth innings. Trevor Velez, after his two-single in the ninth, stole second base and took third on a wild pitch, but the Golden Hawks could not advance him those final 90 feet.
"It's not easy being the visiting team sometimes," Moore said. "But hat's off to Crespi. That's a great team."
El Dorado resumes Century League play next week. The Golden Hawks, 2-3 in league, play El Modena on Wednesday and next Friday.