Ruben Gonzalez was beginning to wonder if he'd ever get a pitch to hit again. For the past month, the feared Santa Ana College cleanup hitter had seen a lot of high pitches, low pitches, outside pitches and inside pitches, but precious few strikes.
However, Saturday afternoon, Gonzalez came to the plate twice when he couldn't be pitched around--and both times he came through with home runs. Gonzalez hit a grand slam and a three-run home run to lead the Dons to a 10-3 rout of Cypress in a South Coast Conference game at Santa Ana.
The victory snapped a three-game Santa Ana losing streak and improved the Don conference record to 7-6 and overall record to 20-9. Cypress, which has lost three straight, is 7-6 and 17-10 and tied with Santa Ana for third place.
Gonzalez, a freshman from Buena Park High School, began the season by going 15 for 16 at the plate in a streak that earned him national recognition. Although the media attention was nice for Gonzalez, it also warned opponents about him and his incredible statistics.
And once conference play started, pitchers came to the conclusion it was safer to walk Gonzalez than anything else, making the last four weeks very frustrating for him.
In desperation, he began to swing at some of those bad pitches and the same player who at one time this season couldn't make an out all of a sudden was in a slump of sorts.
There was no frustration for Gonzalez on Saturday, though, and his slump, mild as it was, came to an end. In the first inning, there were runners at first and second, so losing pitcher John Reid (1-1) was forced to throw him a strike. The result was a line drive over the left-field fence and a 3-0 Santa Ana lead.
It was 4-3 in favor of Santa Ana in the fifth inning when Gonzalez came to the plate for the third time. The bases were loaded, so Charger reliever Mike Schula had no choice but to put the ball over the plate and again, Gonzalez sent it over the fence in left for his ninth home run of the season and an 8-4 Don lead.
Steve Scarsone hit Santa Ana's third home run of the day, a two-run shot, in the sixth to give winning pitcher Gary Pifer some insurance runs he didn't need. Pifer had some shaky moments, but seemed to get stronger as the game went on. He limited Cypress to eight hits in improving his record to 6-1.
In other South Coast Conference action:
Fullerton 7, Golden West 4--Darren Nelson was 2 for 5 with a home run, double and two RBIs and Dave Stotereau went 2 for 3 with a double as the Hornets (6-7, 20-13) beat the Rustlers (9-5, 18-6) at Huntington Beach.
Orange Coast 7, Compton 4--Shortstop Mark Fryan went 4 for 4 with two doubles and drove in two runs to back up the complete-game pitching of Jim Brennan (1-3) at Compton.