In a sloppy game filled with errors, base-running blunders and questionable decisions, the baseball team was able to overcome its miscues to escape with a 7-6 extra-inning victory Tuesday over visiting Hamilton. Just four days earlier, Hamilton had defeated Venice 3-2 in Los Angeles.
“Well this wasn’t the way that we wanted to do it, but we will take the win," Venice Coach said. "I wish that the seniors could have gone out on a better note, but we fought through the mistakes and won the game."
Hamilton loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the first inning, but Venice was able to get out of the jam by only giving up two runs.
In the bottom of the second the Gondoliers got back in the game and scored their first run on a single. then drew a walk with the bases loaded to force home the tying run and an RBI groundout by team captain gave Venice a 3-2 lead.
In the third, senior hurt himself tagging out a Yankees runner caught in a run down. Valdez dislocated his shoulder and had to be taken to the emergency room to get it popped back in place. He later returned to the game, telling his teammates he would only need a couple days of rest to recover.
In the bottom of the inning, Venice scored on an error--a common theme as both sides misplayed ground balls and allowed pop flies to drop.
“You know, the way we played out there today you would think that we don’t practice," Fujita said. "We spend hours on things like ground balls and pop ups, so it’s frustrating to see mistakes like that.”
The Gondoliers increased their lead to 5-2 in the fourth when scored on a sacrifice fly by Sax. In the top of the sixth, Hamilton loaded the bases with one out and scored one run on a groundout.
Dean Sarabia scored another run for Venice on 's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth, upping the lead to 6-3 heading into the final inning.
Hamilton scored to pull within two runs and with runners on second and third and one out, Venice was once again unable to handle an easy infield pop-up.
After a strike out, Hamilton's stepped to the plate and rocketed a two-strike double to the center field wall to drive in two runs and tie it 6-6. The next Yankees batter grounded out, but the damage was done.
Venice failed to score in the bottom of the seventh and Hamilton failed to score in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the inning, Venice had runners on second and third with one out when the batter struck out. However, the ball squirmed loose from the catcher and the batter took off for first base.
As soon as the catcher threw to first, broke for home from third base and when the first baseman's relay throw was high, Lawhon slid in safely to score the winning run.
“We definitely made a lot of mistakes out there today, but to the kids' credit they didn’t get down on themselves after the seventh inning,” Fujita said. “They could have easily said 'Well, that’s it' and lost the game, but they fought back, and I’m proud of that.”
It was a thrilling end to the regular season for Venice, which has a bye next week and must wait longer to find out if it makes the playoffs. Fujita knows his team is right on the cusp of getting in.
“Right now, we are square on the bubble," he said. "Every year, there are a few teams that don’t get in that think they should, so I’m hoping we aren’t one of them. There are a lot of good teams out there, but I’m hoping results like our win over Palisades will get us in there.”