Baseball: Sea Kings back in first place
As Chazz Martinez began to warm up at Corona del Mar High, a fan sitting on the visiting side said, "Same guy as last time." He was referring to Beckman seeing the left-handed pitcher last week.
The Patriots got the better of the junior in the first meeting between Beckman and CdM.
Martinez bounced back at home on Tuesday, and he helped his cause.
The UC Santa Barbara commit hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, putting the Sea Kings ahead, and they went on to win, 2-1, in a key Pacific Coast League game.
The Sea Kings (9-4, 5-1 in league) took sole possession of first place. A week ago, in a battle of two undefeated teams in league, it was the Patriots staying atop with a 5-0 win at home.
Martinez lasted only four innings in his prior start against Beckman. He went the distance the second time around, improving to 3-2.
Martinez only needed 80 pitches, 57 for strikes, to slow down the Patriots (10-3, 4-2), ranked No. 7 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 poll. He allowed three hits while striking out four and walking none.
The performance was quite the contrast to the one at Beckman, where he walked three and gave up three hits and three runs. Martinez changed speeds often and kept the ball away from Beckman's big hitters.
Martinez, as he always is, was excited to see the Patriots. Also firing him and his teammates up was CdM honoring late umpire Randy Gersten at home plate before the game. Gersten passed away on Dec. 13 at age 60 from complications from hip replacement surgery.
"I've known Randy for 20 years and I taught both of his kids," said CdM Coach John Emme, who had Ruvin in his English class and Sherwin in sociology and psychology. "He was just a fixture in the entire community. Right before the game, we said, 'Let's win it for Randy!' I was really delighted we could honor him, and his family was here for it."
The Gerstens and the rest of the nice crowd that came out for the ceremony and game took in a pitching battle.
Beckman sent out Zach Espinosa, five days after he only lasted 11/3 innings in a 13-3 loss to defending league champion Woodbridge. Emme thought CdM would see left-hander Will Cohen, who blanked the Sea Kings for four innings last week, but he understood why Espinosa got the start with the right-hander's early exit.
Espinosa pitched well through three innings, only allowing one hit, and his team led, 1-0. The fourth inning is where the senior gave up a leadoff double to JT Schwartz, and the next batter was Martinez.
Espinosa struck out Martinez with a slider to retire the side in order in the first inning. Three innings later, he fell behind 2-0 on Martinez. The next pitch Martinez expected was a fastball, and he got it, driving the pitch over the right-center field fence to give CdM a 2-1 lead.
The left-handed bats hurt Espinosa (3-2), as he suffered his second straight setback. Espinosa went five innings, and Schwartz, a junior committed to UCLA, produced two of CdM's five hits off Espinosa. Garin Friedman, another left-handed hitter, had an infield single.
The lone run Beckman scored came on a one-out throwing error in the third inning. Other than that, Martinez looked sharp, evening the series with Beckman.
"I'll take this one over Woodbridge," said Martinez, when asked which of his three complete games was the most impressive. "We want to beat [the Patriots]. This put us in first place."
Whether CdM remains alone in first will depend on its next game with Beckman. The teams close out the three-game series at Beckman on Thursday, and Tommy Wilcox (3-0) is expected to get the nod for the Sea Kings and Cohen (4-0) for the Patriots.
Before that, the Sea Kings open the Newport Rib Co. Classic on Wednesday. They play host to Soquel at 3 p.m. Beckman is also in the 16-team tournament, and it starts with Soquel on Friday.
"I told our guys that sometimes you lose and it's easy to sit back and say, 'If we would've done this, then we would've got a better result,' but I don't really have anything," said Beckman Coach Kevin Lavalle, whose lone extra-base hit came off the bat of Connor McGuire, a double in the third inning. "[Martinez] threw strikes. He's good enough to stay in the strike zone and get people out, and that's what he did today."
Pacific Coast League
Corona del Mar 2, Beckman 1
SCORE BY INNINGS
Beckman 001 000 0 – 1 3 1
Corona del Mar 000 200 x – 2 5 1
Espinosa, Villegas (6) and Schell; Martinez and M. Thompson. W – Martinez, 3-2. L – Espinosa, 3-2. 2B – McGuire (B), Schwartz (CdM). HR – Martinez (CdM).