By Dante Quazzo
Early on, it looked like Balboa and Lincoln high schools would be locked in a pitcher’s duel Monday afternoon at Balboa Park, but in the third inning, the Balboa offense finally broke through.
The Buccaneers rallied with five consecutive men reaching base, chasing Lincoln starting pitcher Carlos Loeza from the game and snapping a four-game losing streak in a 7-4 Academic Athletic Association win.
“Our concentration level was much better today,” said Balboa head coach Tom Pontino. “We had a four-game losing streak, and we had some shortcomings with our concentration and confidence then, but we made sure our concentration level was better today.”
The Buccaneers (9-10, 7-2) scored four runs in the third, and added another two in the fourth. The Mustangs (8-6, 7-2) rallied for three runs in the sixth, but the game was put away when Balboa added another run in the bottom half of the inning.
Balboa starting pitcher Eli Smoot held the Mustangs in check for the first five innings, giving up just three hits on the day. He did, however, run into some trouble with his command, issuing seven walks. The walks led to the Lincoln rally in the sixth inning, where he didn’t record an out and was removed after walking the first three batters of the frame.
“I came out and I was a little overexcited, and my catcher [Michael Li] really helped me keep the ball down and stay relaxed,” Smoot said. “He does a great job behind the plate. Without him I would’ve been gone.”
Smoot also contributed at the plate, driving in two runs, including a RBI double in the third. Gavin Chin went 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Balboa, and Li added to his defensive effort by reaching base four times to boost the Buccaneers’ offense.
The Bucs’ offense was aided in part by Lincoln pitching that couldn’t seem to find the plate at times, as the Mustangs issued three walks and hit three batters.
“All around, a pretty sloppy game on our part,” said Lincoln head coach Eric Calloway. “Our offense isn’t that strong, so we gotta pick it up with the defense and the pitching. But today, we came out pretty flat-footed.”
Lincoln’s Remfel Ganal reached base three times in the game, as did teammate C.J. Wong, but the rest of the Mustangs’ offense went just 2-for-15 at the plate.
The Mustangs look to rebound in AAA play on Wednesday against Lowell, while Balboa will work to continue their run at a league title against Galileo on Wednesday.
L – C.J. Wong singles, Remfel Ganal scores
B – Gavin Chin singles, Christian Pulusian scores
B – Jeremy Wong singles, Chin and Michael Li score
B – Eli Smoot doubles, Jeremy Wong scores
B – Chiss grounds out, Jordan Figueras scores
B – Li singles, Pulusian scores
L – Ganal steals third, scores on throwing error
L – James Clark singles, C,J. Wong scores
L – Clark caught stealing second, Paul Nguyen scores
B – Chin scores on balk