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Seniors rally for a 2-0 win headed into playoffs

Alhambra outfielder Gavin Duncan takes a swing in the Bulldogs’ 2-0 win over Las Lomas on May 19, 2016. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)
Alhambra outfielder Gavin Duncan takes a swing in the Bulldogs’ 2-0 win over Las Lomas on May 19, 2016. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)
By GABE AGURCIA
Special to the Tribune

Alhambra baseball ended the regular season on a high note, defeating Las Lomas on Senior Night, May 19, with a 2-0 shutout.

Runs were at a premium, and not many rallies were strung together by either team.

The Knights came out strong, putting runners at first and third with one out, via an error, stolen base and a single. Starter Brett Sterrer was able to work around it to get through a clean first inning.

The Bulldogs got their first runner in scoring position in the second, when Jordyn Eglite got to first due to an error and Gavin Duncan grounded out to move him over. But Eglite wasn’t driven in.

Shortstop Zach Elliott produced a defensive highlight in the third inning to give the game some life.

Elliott fielded a sharply hit grounder to the right of second base. He slipped just as he snagged the ball, and with the runner more than halfway down the line, he had to pop up nearly with his back turned to first base. He planted his left foot, pivoted slightly, and threw at a peripheral angle, whipping his right arm across his body. Even with the extra process, Elliott still nailed the runner by almost a full step with a strong throw, and the crowd roared with amazement.

The WebGem from the senior shortstop may have jolted his team, as the offense started clicking in the bottom of the third.

Senior Jacob Armosino led off with a double. Elliott followed, laying down what appeared to be a sac bunt, but he beat it out for a base hit. Senior Matt Beck was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After a strikeout for the first out, senior Josh Abraham lined a two-run double to right-center, giving Alhambra a 2-0 lead.

The Bulldogs once again loaded the bases in the fourth inning with a Duncan single, Elliott walked and Beck infield single. Unfortunately, they couldn’t cash in this opportunity, and it remained a two run game.
Sterrer continued his solid performance in the fifth inning. Two of the three outs came via the strikeout, the second an inning-ending curve ball that froze Las Lomas’ Max Kulsuptrakul.

The Knight offense made its best comeback attempt in the sixth inning, forcing Sterrer to keep his poise one last time.

Jack McCallum drew a lead-off walk and Connor Fragen beat out an infield single. Adam Evans advanced both runners with a groundout, putting the tying runs in scoring position with just one out. But Sterrer remained undeterred, inducing two fly outs to maintain a clean scoreboard, virtually sealing the game for the Bulldogs.

“He pounded the zone. He got ahead of most of the batters. Got ahead, stayed ahead. And he had minimal walks. As far as the jam (in the sixth inning), it was nice to see him keep his composure. He had a very strong performance today,” Coach Daryl King said of Sterrer.

It was an all-senior rally that got Alhambra its only runs of the game. A perfectly fitting outcome for the graduating group. “They went out there and had a lot of fun, played together, and were very energetic the entire time,” said King.

“They lead by example. That’s what I’ll miss the most, the leadership. They always bring a positive attitude to practices and games. And when some of the younger guys need a pep or a kick, they’re there to do it.”

King had a strong sense of optimism following the game. He noted that Elliott’s good at-bats are starting to produce base hits and runs, which will make a formidable top of the lineup with Beck, Peters and Abraham all swinging the bat well.

The Bulldogs now await their playoff seeding and scheduling.

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