By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Casa Grande, now a winner of 13 straight, clinched at least a tie for the NBL title on Wednesday as the Gauchos beat host Cardinal Newman, 8-3.
The Petaluma school can win the championship outright Friday when Rancho Cotate comes to town. Casa’s league record is 12-1 while Maria Carrillo is a game behind. The Pumas finish up with a home game against Cardinal Newman.
Casa got off to a rough start Wednesday as the Cardinals put three runs on the scoreboard in the first.
However, the Gauchos came right back with four in the second. The Newman defense helped out by making a pair of errors. The big hit was a double by Tyler Moore.
It remained 4-3 until the sixth when Casa scored three more. Again, an error played a key role. An infield fielding miscue with two outs led to the runs. Moore, Austin Garatti and Nick Bostow had the key hits.
Seven of the Gauchos’ runs were unearned.
“You can’t play defense like we did against a good team like Casa,” Cardinals coach TJ McMahon said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The Gauchos also made three errors but those didn’t prove costly.
“This was our best win of the year,” coach Paul Maytorena said. “We got punched in the face in the first inning and then got off the canvas and won. It was the first time we’d been in that situation and the guys responded in a big way.”
Casa banged out 10 hits compared to three for Newman. Garatti, playing his first game since severely spraining an ankle two weeks ago, went 3-for-4. Brian Hupke had three RBIs and two hits.
Newman’s record is 10-3 in league and 18-5 overall.
Casa is 18-5 and hasn’t lost since dropping a 4-2 decision to Maria Carrillo on March 26.
MARIA CARRILLO 5, RANCHO COTATE 3
At Rohnert Park, Andrew Vaughn and Patrick Gavin each knocked in a pair of runs.
The Pumas did all their scoring on two-out hits.
Zach Scott was the winning pitcher and Vaughn got the save.
The Cougars scored their runs in the seventh.
UKIAH 7, SANTA ROSA 3
At Ukiah, the Wildcats led 5-2 after three innings.
Leading the offense with two hits apiece were: Karter Koch, Robbie McIntosh and Morgan Edwards.
Richard Prentice went 3-for-4 for Santa Rosa.
MONTGOMERY 4, WINDSOR 1
At Montgomery, Chucky Keller hit a single, double and triple as the Vikings led all the way.
Starting pitcher Colin Prince (9 Ks) and reliever Forrest Hunt combined on a three-hitter.