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Saugus baseball falls to Alemany in CIF wild card

Saugus leads early, but can’t hang on

Posted: May 21, 2014 10:25 p.m.
Updated: May 21, 2014 10:25 p.m.

Saugus second baseman Troy Williams makes a stop against Alemany at Alemany High School on Wednesday in a CIF-Southern Section Division I wild-card playoff game.

 

MISSION HILLS — If Foothill League play for Saugus could be broken down into a seven-inning game, it would be a quick start, a lead in the middle and finally close but not enough.

The same thing happened on Wednesday in Saugus’ CIF-Southern Section Division I wild-card game.

The Centurions scored three runs in the first inning and led through the first four innings, but a four-run fifth inning by Alemany spelled the end of Saugus’ season in a 5-4 loss at Alemany High.

“It’s the little things throughout the game. It’s not like we stopped playing,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “We played with great passion, but their pitcher got better.”

Alemany’s Brandon Ponticelli surrendered three first-inning runs — three straight RBI singles (Roy Verdejo, Brendan Griffith and Rudy Aguilar) and allowed a baserunner in every inning after. But he got out of every one of those innings without surrendering an earned run.

The Warriors (19-8-2) are now the answer to the question of: Who is the only team to get to Anthony Donatella in 2014?

The junior left-hander came into the game leading Division I with a 0.56 ERA.

He was a big reason why Saugus was tied for first place in the Foothill League with three games remaining in the regular season.

But in Wednesday’s second inning, two wild pitches advanced Cristian Montes, who led off with a single, to third base.

Montes scored on a Thomas Luevano sacrifice fly to cut Saugus’ lead to 3-1.

The fifth inning started horribly for the Centurions (17-11).

Three consecutive singles, including a bunt that Donatella fielded but slipped on, started the inning.

Then he looked like he was going to get out of it, fielding two straight comebackers to get outs.

Donatella walked Demetri Pagalidis, though, allowing a second Warrior run.

Montes then followed with a two-run single and Alex McKenna knocked in the fifth run with an infield single.

“He threw a lot of stuff away and off-speed and we didn’t go with the right approach (early),” Montes said. “(Between innings, head coach Randy Thompson said), ‘Just remember (what we worked on) in practice.’”

In preparation for the game, Alemany left-hander Matt O’Brien previewed in a Tuesday batting practice what his team would see from Donatella — away and off-speed.

On Wednesday, Donatella just didn’t have the same command on his breaking pitches that he’s had all season.

He allowed seven hits and walked three, throwing 83 pitches in his five innings, 46 of which were for strikes.

However, he knocked Ponticelli out of the game in the top of the seventh with a one-out double.

Troy Williams grounded to second base, but Adam Bedrossian made an error on the play.

With runners on the corners, Verdejo hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly to right field for his 35th RBI of the season, which left him one short of tying J.B. Johnson’s 24-year school record.

Griffith, though, grounded into a force play to end the game.

Saugus ended the season with four straight one-run losses and will lose Verdejo to graduation.

However, 14 players were underclassmen, including a very successful and promising pitching staff led by Donatella.

“We just kind of came up short,” Maggiora said. “At least I have something for motivation. Four one-run losses makes us think, ‘What can I do better?’”

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