La Verne Flashes Offense and Defense Late to Hold Off Claremont, 7-4

July 13, 2010
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After Kurtis Redman looks one over, he swings and grounds sharply to second to drive in a run.

After Kurtis Redman looks one over, he swings and grounds sharply to second to drive in a run.

0032Instead of a walk-off single or home run to win the game, the La Verne 12-year-old all star team won with a slide-and-throw tag-out at home plate to preserve a 7-4 win over Claremont and earn the right to meet undefeated San Dimas in the finals tonight at Pelota Park.

With runners at second and third and clinging to a 7-4 lead with two outs in the top of the sixth, La Verne was facing the heart of the Claremont line up. Down to his last strike, Tyler Roebuck slapped a sharp single to center scoring the runner from the third. After scooping the ball up, Kurtis Redman threw the ball to Nick Lodolo who fired to catcher Pipes Lopez just as the sliding runner reached home plate.

In the ensuring cloud of dust, the umpire ruled that the runner had slide over home plate without ever touching it and when he reached back to do so, Lopez tagged him out. Game over. Instead of the score being 7-5 La Verne with  Roebuck on second and Claremont’s two most dangerous hitters, Cole Prentice and Kyle Del Campo, coming to the plate, La Verne ended the game on top, 7-4.

The game was full of twists, which turned the game into a nail-biter right up to the last controversial play. In the top of the fifth leading 4-3, La Verne turned away another Claremont rally. Claremont loaded the bases on a walk, single and error with no outs. In perhaps his biggest test of the season, Lodolo got Ricky Conti to hit a short flair that first baseman Cole Sojka speared and then in the same motion flipped the ball and to Redman who was covering first to complete the rally-killing double play. Again, the bang-bang play was a close call that went in La Verne’s favor and brought a vehement but short outcry from the Claremont partisans.

Perhaps, it was karma, because in the top of the sixth, La Verne turned a second double play before Claremont mounted its two-out rally that just fell short.

La Verne had two big offensive innings. They went up 4-0 in the bottom of the second after stringing together four straight singles. After Lopez singled to lead off the inning, Austin Shively laid down a perfect bunt up the third baseline and when Lopez saw no one covering third, he alertly kept running and to take the extra base. Alex Gonzalez and Eric Castruita followed with RBI singles and Redman drove in another when he grounded out to short.

Claremont got on the board with a run in the third and two more in the fourth to trail by one run 4-3, and the team clearly looked to have the momentum heading into the fifth innning. But after Claremont failed to score after loading the bases with no outs, La Verne scored three more runs in the bottom half of the inning, the two big blows coming on a one-run ground rule double by Lopez and a two-run ground-rule double Jacob Wollard.

For La Verne, Cole Sojka started on the mound and was followed by Lodolo, Brogan White and Nick Rodriguez.

Although now in the finals, La Verne must defeat San Dimas twice to claim the District 20 championship. The scenario is not impossible. The 2009 12 all stars followed the same path to win the tournament last year.

Will history repeat? Come up out to Pelota Park at 6:30 p.m. to find out.

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