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Tigers take chances that pay off for Bruins

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Posted: Friday, March 28, 2003 10:00 pm

STOCKTON - Tokay High baseball coach Paul Lovotti gambled twice on Friday at Bear Creek and lost both times.

Lovotti elected to have Andrew Troncale pitch to Nate Grischott in the bottom of the sixth inning with two runners on.

And in his role as third-base coach, Lovotti waved Lemar Medina home with two outs in the top of the seventh.

With two runners on, Grischott drove a 1-2 pitch from Troncale over the center-field fence for a three-run lead and Medina, trying to score on a David Cooper hit, was gunned down in a 9-8 setback.

The loss drops the Tigers (6-6 overall) to 4-2 in San Joaquin Athletic Association play, while the Bruins (6-5, 4-2 SJAA) pulled into a tie for fourth place with Tokay and Lodi via sweeping back-to-back games.

Lincoln, St. Mary's and West are tied for first after each improved to 5-1 in SJAA action with wins on Friday.

Trailing 9-6 in the top of the seventh, Kyle Keefer drew a leadoff walk and Gino Olson followed with a base hit.

After Ian Brodie recorded back-to-back outs, Medina drew a walk to load the bases and set the stage for Tokay to comeback from a large deficit for the second time in the game.

Cooper, who went 4-for-4 with a double and four RBIs, drove a ball to the center-field gap that Bear Creek's Mike Ruiloba collected off the fence before turning and hitting the cutoff man.

Matt Hamer made the catch, turned and threw to home, where catcher Mike Soria applied the tag on Medina for the final out of the game.

Lovotti said if he could do it again he wouldn't change a thing.

"I thought Lemar would have enough time to score on David's hit," said Lovotti, adding his players felt Medina was safe. "It was a great chance to score, but they made a great relay throw."

Bear Creek coach Josh Crabtree said that although his team works on the same play in practice, executing it in a game-situation is impressive.

"Mike (Ruiloba) made a great initial play on the ball, Matt (Hamer) made a great throw and Mike (Soria) protected the plate."

As for electing to pitch to Grischott, who also jacked a 2-1 offering from starter Marcus Wehrly over the center-field fence with the bases loaded in the third inning for his third homer this week, Lovotti said he would take the same approach.

"Andrew had struck out Grischott on a curve ball in the fourth inning and I didn't want to put the winning run on third," Lovotti said.

The Bruins scored two more runs in the fourth inning when Chris Jennings doubled off Wehrly, prompting Lovotti to bring in Troncale, who sandwiched a ground out and strikeout around a walk to end the inning.

Tokay answered back with four runs in the top of the fifth inning.

Medina hit a one-out double and Cooper plated him with a double. Wehrly singled to put runners at the corners and Chris Lester walked to load the bases.

Scott McKenzie followed with a bloop single to score Medina.

Kyle Keefer grounded to the shortstop, who stepped on the second-base bag but threw wild to first, allowing a run to score before Olson grounded out to end the inning.

Ryan Stoltenberg and Caffese drew walks to start the sixth and Cooper plated Stoltenberg with a base hit to tie the score at 6-6.

Two batters later Chris Lester walked to load the bases for McKenzie, whose blooper was caught by a diving Hamer to end the threat.

The Tigers play Lincoln in a home-and-home next week.

Bear Creek 9, Tokay 8
Tokay 0 0 0 0 4 2 2 - 8 10 0
Bear Creek 0 0 4 2 0 3 x - 9 6 1
Wehrly, Troncale (4) and Olson; Jennings, Meyer (5) and Brodie (6) and Soria.

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