At the End of the Day, Bonita Survives and Earns the Right to Advance in CIF Playoffs

May 23, 2012
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Without Castro's three clutch RBIs, Bonita might not be enjoying a trip to the CIF quarterfinals this Friday at home against Paramount.

Without Castro's three clutch RBIs, Bonita might not be enjoying a trip to the CIF quarterfinals this Friday at home against Paramount.

As it has all season, Bonita found a way to win, edging the Garden Grove Argonauts 5-3 on Tuesday for the right to move on to the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.

Bonita had only five hits, but made the most out of them. Meanwhile, Coach John Knott got four solid innings on the hill from starting pitcher Parker Merritt before handing the ball to Justin Garza for the final three frames to preserve the victory.

It was a scoreless game until the top of the third. Woody Reyes and Justin Row led off the inning with walks and each moved up 90 feet into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Garza. Then Castro plated both runners with a single up the middle.

In the first inning, Castro had failed in a similar situation (runner at third with one out and the infield playing back), but there was no getting Castro a second time.

“He’s shown that he grown a lot as a player and a hitter,” Knott said. “In the first inning, I felt bad he struck out. I know he was disappointed. I think a year or two ago he would have really let that snowball and let that affect him.”

Bonita’s 2-0 lead stood up only until the bottom of the fourth when the Argonauts evened the score on a pair of fielders’ choices. One was set up by a fielding miscue by Merritt covering first base.

Other than the error, Merritt had good command on the mound.

“He did a good job of keeping us in the game,” Knott said. “He made some big pitches. He was able to throw his slider or cutter for a strike.”

Playing on the road, Knott sensed a momentum shift in the fourth, and with his ace Garza available to throw, Knott made the choice to start his senior hurler in the fifth.

“I didn’t want to have to go to Garza that early, but the reality is, this would have been it with a loss,” Knott said.

Before Garza took the hill in the bottom of the fifth, however, Bonita struck for three more runs, courtesy of a two-out RBI single by Castro and a two-run homer by Tyler Heslop.

“I told Justin before the game to be ready pretty much from the fourth inning on,” Knott said. “If we have a lead and we don’t have to pitch you, that’d be great, but if it’s tied or the momentum is changing, be ready. And that’s kind of what happened. I had to make the call beforehand to get him hot. It was 2-2 at the time.

“So it was great for Castro to get the two-out RBI and get the big home run from Heslop. But I had to make my decision when it was still 2-2. Garza is the only guy we have who can absolutely end their momentum.

“If we are going to lose a game, we want to lose with our best players and Justin is by far our best pitcher.”

Garza didn’t slam the door against the Argonauts, but he closed it securely enough. In the bottom of the sixth, after the Argonauts scored one unearned run,  Garza induced an inning-ending double play to stem any further trouble.

In the seventh, Bonita booted another ball, but Garza later picked the runner off second.

It wasn’t Bonita’s prettiest or most dominating win of the season — far from it – but once again the boys from Bonita, now 28-2, found a way to get it done.

“We’re just happy we found a way to win the game,” Knott said. “We’re disappointed with how we looked. We know we’re better than that. We definitely played tight today. I felt like we played not to lose as opposed to play to win.

“But I rather not look that good and win, than look good and lose.”

Bonita looked good enough.

And should look even better on Friday. Bonita has Garza available for seven innings this Friday in a home game against Paramount, 3-0 winners on Tuesday against Culver City. Sam Stavang, who boasts a sub 2.0 ERA, also is fresh and ready to go.

“At the end of the day,” Knott said, “we survived and get to move on.”

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