NBL baseball: Casa edges Newman 2-1 in league championship game

By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

In the final tune-up before the North Coast Section Division II baseball playoffs, Casa Grande defeated Cardinal Newman 2-1 in the North Bay League tournament championship game on Friday.

The NBL tournament title for the Gauchos (24-2) adds to their 2013 accolades. Casa Grande easily won the NBL regular season with a 13-1 record and amassed a 21-game winning streak before the Cardinals (14-12) ended it last week.

“We are 3-1 against Cardinal Newman and we avenged the loss,” Casa Grande coach Paul Maytorena said. “They are a good team. I don’t want to see them anymore.”

First round games of the NCS Division II will be Tuesday/Wednesday. Selections for the 16-team tournament are on Sunday.

Maytorena said the Gauchos should get a one or two seed based on record and winning the NBL. Casa Grande is guaranteed a first-round home game.

Cardinal Newman coach TJ McMahon said his team is deserving of a seven or eight seed. It’s a toss-up whether the Cardinals will host a first round game.

“Hopefully strength of schedule carries some weight,” McMahon said. “We have had some quality wins.”

The Gauchos are an amazing 14-0 in one-run games this season.

“We have a lot of confidence when we are in one-run games,” Maytorena said. “We want to stay out of the big inning.”

“Casa finds a way to win the one-run games,” McMahon said.

Both teams squandered bases loaded with one out early opportunities (Gauchos in the second and Cardinals in the third) to keep the game scoreless through three innings.

Cardinal Newman took a 1-0 lead in the fourth after an RBI single by Alex Roeser off Casa Grande starter Nick Marks. Matt Becker, who earned the win, came in to relieve Marks later in the inning to end the Cardinals’ rally.

The Gauchos, however, took the lead for good by scoring two unearned runs in the fifth inning after an error by the Cardinals shortstop opened the door to a two-out rally. Casa Grande’s Nate Bills and Iggy Llorence each earned an RBI with a bases loaded walk.

“That error hurt us. That has been the story of our season. We make one error and it comes back to bite us,” McMahon said. “You can’t make mistakes against a great team like Casa Grande.”

Despite only giving up three hits and no earned runs in nearly five innings of work, Cardinals starter James Proctor took the loss. Proctor has only given up five earned runs in his last eight starts.

“Hats off to Proctor,” Maytorena said. “He threw well. We were swinging at a lot of balls.”

Gauchos reliever Eric Parnow earned the save by pitching a scoreless seventh inning.

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