No recount needed: Bush wins it for NHS
By Jesse Phelps
It was an agonizing six and a
half innings for the Nordhoff faithful who came to watch the
varsity baseball team play Santa Clara Tuesday afternoon.
And then, with one glorious swing, the tension was released and
a victory was in hand.
After struggling to find its offense for six innings, striking
out nine times as a team, Nordhoff (4-9, 2-2) walked off the
field with an unlikely 3-2 victory when catcher Ronnie Bush smacked
a seeing-eye single up the middle to plate the tying and winning
runs in the bottom of the seventh. It represented a huge offensive
burst on a day when both teams struggled to get runners on base.
Nordhoff ace Jacob Orozco was steady most of the day, giving
up only six hits and two walks over seven innings. "We just
understand each other," said Bush of his pitcher. "He
just throws to the glove a lot of the time. He got hit pretty
hard in a couple of innings but he stuck with it and hit his
The classic pitchers' duel was punctuated with a couple of costly
mistakes. Orozco allowed a pair of solo home runs to Santa Clara
sluggers Eddie Arroyo and Julio Aguilera, in the second and fourth
innings, respectively. For a while, it looked like those two
runs would be all Santa Clara hurler Freddy Alcala would need.
Sporting a darting slider and consistently painting the black
on the outside edge of the plate, Alcala cruised through five
innings, scattering three singles and a pair of walks.
But errors proved to be his team's undoing. In the bottom of
the sixth, pinch-hitter Robbie Laber knocked a ball in the hole
behind short for Nordhoff's fourth hit of the day. Aguilera fielded
the ball but his rushed throw sailed over Saint first baseman
Brian Yuncker's glove and Laber took second base.
That brought up Bush but his moment was yet to come. He
flied to center. Still, Ranger third baseman Ian LeClere kept
the rally going with a bloop double, his second hit of the day,
and Laber took third, having tagged up on the high fly ball.
After Greg Cresto walked, right fielder Jake Kendzior came to
the plate with men in scoring position for the second time.
Earlier, Kendzior hit into an inning-ending double play to end
the fourth in what had been the Rangers' only legitimate scoring
threat of the day. But he redeemed himself, driving a ball deep
enough to right to plate Laber from third. And suddenly the deficit
was cut in half.
Orozco worked around his only two walks of the night in the top
of the seventh, inducing two grounders to LeClere and a high
fly tracked down by Kendzior. That set the stage for the drama.
Ranger shortstop Ryan Ranuio led off the final inning with a
hard ground shot down the line, fielded cleanly on his knees
by Santa Clara third baseman Nick Baca. Baca threw in time to
first but the hard-hit ball showed that now the Rangers were
getting to Alcala. His strikeout pitch began to elude him and
he issued consecutive free passes to Breal Rowe and Laber, up
for the second time in two innings.
Then his loss of control fused
with his team's defensive woes. A wild pitch allowed the two
Rangers to advance into scoring position, setting up Bush for
"Coach just told me to sit on a fastball and wait for it,"
said Bush. "So I saw a fastball and I just hit it right
up the middle and it got through."
Running on contact, both runners came in to score easily once
the ball found its way to the outfield grass. Nordhoff coach
Matt Cresto said Bush did what needed to be done.
"He's gotta get on top of that thing and drive it. When
he does, he's successful," said Cresto. "He didn't
hit the ball hard but he hit the ball on the ground and it found
eyes, you know, and we got lucky there."
After failing to get any runners into scoring position in the
first four innings, the Rangers stranded five in the fifth and
sixth. "We didn't execute early on," said Cresto.
But none of it mattered once Bush connected and in the end, Orozco
overcame his two shaky moments to record a pretty, six-hit complete-game
"Early on he looked tired but I'm gonna go with him,"
said Cresto. "He's my guy. I'll go with him as long as I
can. I talked to him that last hitter and told him, 'Hey, I'm
goin' with you. This is your batter.'"
Nordhoff got seven strikeouts from Orozco and two hits from LeClere.
Leadoff man Brian Vaughn was one for two with two walks. But
it was Laber, with two runs scored, who provided the spark. And
Bush, with his only hit of the day, lit the fire.
The Ojai Valley News
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