The La Salle Lancers were behind before Tuesday afternoon’s conference baseball showdown versus the Cathedral Phantoms even began ... literally. That’s because the matchup, originally scheduled for last Friday, was halted in its tracks in the top of the third inning when the lights at La Salle’s home field Arcadia County Park suddenly went out and could not be turned back on.
Fast forward to Tuesday: same teams, same field, different day, with play resuming from the exact point it had been cut off —with La Salle facing a 2-0 deficit.‚Ä®
But it wasn’t just La Salle that suffered from the game being suspended on Friday. Playing great baseball only to have the momentum abruptly ripped away isn’t an easy obstacle to overcome. Just ask Cathedral manager Gus Pelayo. “The hardest part [about preparing for Tuesday’s game] was just keeping the kids upbeat,” says Pelayo. “On Friday, we came in full of confidence, we were playing solid baseball, but then all of a sudden the lights go out, and we have to regroup.”
So what’s the key to regrouping? “[I told them] ‘keep working hard,’” continues Pelayo. “‘Don’t forget about the score. Don’t let up, and keep doing what you guys are doing. Just play our style of baseball. Stay focused with our style of baseball, and everything’s going to be just fine.’”
The Phantoms heeded their coach’s pre-game advice, and continued the timely hitting and solid defense they displayed on Friday en route to an 8-5 victory.
rnLa Salle rallies
Take two of Cathedral vs. La Salle got off to a good start for the visiting Phantoms, as sophomore catcher Omar Veloz scored on a sharp single by senior second baseman Jason Pacheco. But in the home half of the inning, the Lancers looked determined to even things back up, and ensured that they did so with a furious rally. The surge began with senior right fielder Cameron Henderson scoring sophomore catcher Sammy Martinez on a single into left field, followed by junior cleanup hitter Kyle Cuellar smacking a double into deep center field to bring in Henderson and senior third baseman Ruben Martinez.‚Ä®
For the second time that day, Cathedral’s junior starting pitcher Bernie Fernandez had to regroup. “[I thought to myself] ‘I just gotta be mentally tough,’” says Fernandez.
rnFernandez Brings The Complete Package
Fernandez calmed down very nicely, relinquishing only two earned runs and two walks for the remainder of his complete game outing. His impressive workhorse performance included three strikeouts and a gutsy sixth inning in which he pitched his way out of a bases loaded jam and allowed only one run. “I just trusted in my pitches and I stayed composed,” says Fernandez of his ability to shake off his rough start.
Fernandez’ faith in his pitches is shared by the entire Cathedral squad. “He’s a bulldog,” says Pelayo of his ace. “He kept the ball down. Kept the [La Salle] kids off balance ... he only had two walks, and that’s the key to the game.”
“He [Fernandez] hasso much confidence when he goes up on the bump,” adds Pacheco. “As [his] teammates, we build off of that. And it shows.”‚Ä®
It certainly showed on Tuesday; Cathedral would quickly recapture the lead in the fourth inning when Fernandez managed to score thanks to a Lancer infield error, and would add an insurance run in the fifth when senior first baseman Daniel Casillas doubled to center field, and was brought home during the next at-bat on a single up the middle by senior shortstop Ramon Bramasco.
Cathedral saved its best for last in the seventh inning. With the bases loaded, Veloz hustled home on a passed ball, and then Pacheco drilled a screaming grounder that deflected off of the third baseman Martinez into left field and enabled Casillas and Bramasco to score.‚Ä®
“We’ve been struggling offensively [of late], but we’re starting to see our main hitters come around with our hitting, and doing the timely hitting, which is good to see,” says Pelayo. “It doesn’t put that much pressure now on our pitching … to maintain the other team under one or two runs in order for us to win. So having the support with our offense is a major key.”‚Ä® The four run lead was more than enough for Fernandez.
Although junior shortstop Ryan Garcia got La Salle’s last stand off on the right foot by roping a leadoff triple into right field and then scoring on a sacrifice fly by junior utility man Sebastian Moore, the Garcia run would be the Lancers’ last, leaving the final score at 8-5 in favor of Cathedral.
rnUp Next: Village Christian
Now that the La Salle game is (finally) in the books, Cathedral will have a full week off before it hosts Village Christian. The Phantoms would like to avoid another 96-hour delay between the second and third inning, but want their approach to be exactly as it was yesterday afternoon: marked by their own style of baseball.