By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal
The Sonora Raiders advance to the Southern Section Quarterfinals with a 5-2 victory against Katella.
The Raiders battled back, scoring five unanswered runs to shut down the Knights.
Austin Weddle toed the rubber for the Raiders who worked in and out of jams for six innings.
“He seems to be fighting himself all the time, he’s cutting his pitches off short,” Tellers said.
Weddle started the game reliant on his fastball, but gained command of his curveball and changeup.
“He just kept battling through it,” Tellers said.
Weddle however did not have much help behind him as the Raiders defense showed one of their weaker performances.
With runners on first and second base and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Raiders got some timely defense off the bench.
Alex Penaloza hit a deep fly ball to left field. Jacob Tennyson trailed the high fly ball into the corner and eventually caught it before it got lost in the corner.
Tennyson is regarded as the fastest player in the Sonora baseball program with a 6.3 second 60 yard dash.
“He’s usually the guy out there in the late innings, and he had the smarts to get that one back in the infield,” Tellers said.
Katella was on the run, so when Tennyson hauled it in, both runners had a long run to get back to their bases, allowing Tennyson to relay a ball into the infield to double off Matt Morello from first.
“I thought for sure it was going to be a 5-4 game with a runner on third,” Tellers said expecting the play to end as a triple.
The throw ended the game securing a 5-2 victory.
Katella scored their first run in the second inning.
With two on and no outs, Eduardo Ureno dropped a bunt down in front of Eli Villalobos. Villalobos tried to throw the runner out at second, but his throw sailed into center field scoring Penaloza. With runners on the corners Katella hit a grounder to Justin Mellano. Mellano made a strong throw to home to tie Gabriel Gamboa up between the basepath in a pickle. Weddle struck the next batter out before escaping the jam one batter later.
Wilem Drozdowski reached on an infield single in the third to set the table for the Raiders. JP Sarro followed with another single to put runners on first and second. Eli Villalobos fouled off a pitch in front of the Raiders dugout, and Drozdowski tagged up after Roberto Jaime bobbled the catch in front of the fence. Dylan Villalobos singled up the middle to tie the game, bringing in Drozdowski.
The Raiders added to their run total in the fourth with a leadoff single by Jake Rosander. Mellano then sacrificed him over to second.
Gabe Armstrong singled putting runners on the corners and Jason Clayton singled down the line to bring in Rosander for a 2-1 lead.
In the sixth, the Raiders scored their third run on back to back doubles from Mellano and Armstrong. Armstrong would try to score on a single to left, but was thrown out at the plate. Armstrong appeared to injure his hamstring on the play.
In the seventh inning, Katella’s pitching trouble led to two runs for the Raiders.
“It’s about making plays,” Tellers said, “Defense will usually cost you games, I think we got a couple from them because of mistakes on defense, and I know for sure we threw a few away.”
Eli Villalobos reached on an infield single to third base. He took second on a wild pitch and went to third on Dylan’s single to center. Another wild pitch scored Eli and put Dylan at second.
Chandler Koontz reached on a walk, then swiped second on a wild pitch. Dylan Villalobos scored on another wild pitch to give the Raiders a 5-1 lead.
The Knights season ended after they scored their second run off of Sarro who came in to pitch.
Morello singled to left to drive in the run, but would be out retreating on Penaloza’s fly ball to left.
With the Raiders road victory, they will host Serrano who knocked out Victor Valley in a 5-2 victory. That game will be played on Friday afternoon.
“It’s been a fight, and hopefully we can continue fighting,” Tellers said.
The Raiders carry 11 Seniors, and will look to the to carry the load as the season continues.
“We know that everyone’s in this together, but it’s their deal. They have no tomorrow,” Tellers said.