Wednesday’s meeting between Long Beach Poly and Millikan had the feel of a Moore League title game, and it might ultimately prove to be Round One of that battle. Both the Jackrabbits (12-1, 2-0) and the visiting Rams (8-2, 1-1) have gotten off to terrific starts to the season, and currently appear to be the class of the league.
Both starting pitchers went the distance, but it was Poly’s Elias Torres who led his team to victory, tossing a shutout in Poly’s narrow 1-0 win over the Rams. Torres picked a great time to throw the first complete game of his career–facing one of Poly’s top league rivals–and sent a strong message to the rest of the league.
“Our team is going to get after it this year,” Torres said. “We’re serious that we’re going to compete and we might be one of the best teams in the league. We’re going to stay after it and protect our turf and I think we’ve been doing that pretty well. This was a huge win.”
Torres had his slider working well, and got plenty of help from his defense behind him. The senior went the full 7 innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out four. Millikan did hit a few balls hard against Torres, but the outfield trio of Andrew Clavel, Kenny Barnabee and Diego Falencik each made memorable plays behind him to help secure the shutout.
“There were three balls hit that I think most high school outfielders don’t get to, and with an offense like Millikan’s, that could be multiple runs,” said Poly head coach Brent Lavoie after the win. “They didn’t score any runs because our defense played so well, and that’s that’s one thing we preach. We’re big on defense and keeping the routine routine, but every once in a while you’ve got to go make that great play too, and that was the difference.”
Millikan’s junior lefty Myles Patton was the tough-luck loser after tossing a gem of his own, pitching all 6 innings and allowing one run on five hits with no walks and nine strikeouts.
“He was able to throw the fastball well today and that kind of allowed him to get through it,” said Millikan head coach Ron Keester of his starter. “(Poly) had a few more opportunities today. Fortunately, we were able to get out of them to keep it where it was, but they capitalized when we were not able to.”
Poly scratched across a run in the first inning thanks to leadoff man Troy Criss. The senior shortstop smacked a leadoff double to center field, which represented the only extra-base hit of the afternoon. After an infield single and a sac bunt moved the runners over, Edgar Rosales did his job as the cleanup hitter by delivering an RBI groundout to score Criss.
Barnabee had a pair of singles for the Jackrabbits to go with his excellent defense, and Rosales tacked on a base hit to lead off the fourth inning.
Millikan didn’t record its first hit until Sam DeCarlo’s two-out single up the middle in the fourth inning. The Rams also threatened in the sixth inning when Dean Ormonde blooped a leadoff single and moved to second base with one out on a wild pitch. Daniel Murillo then lined a ball to left field, with a charging Clavel coming in to make the catch and then firing the ball to second base to double off Ormonde and end the threat.
In their next games, Poly will host Cabrillo on Friday while Millikan hosts Cerritos in non-league action on Thursday. The Rams’ next league game will come next Wednesday at Wilson.