Monroe High Coach Bill Hence said he knows the recipe for winning baseball games, but his Vikings didn't have it Tuesday in their 7-2 loss to Granada Hills at home.
"They were trying to feed us and we wouldn't eat," Hence said. "We tried to feed them and they ate. They were just hungrier than us today."
Granada Hills (5-3), backed by the four-hit pitching of Leo Clouser and the defensive play of left fielder Dean Yoshitani, moved into first place in the Mid Valley League.
Clouser, who struck out three and went the distance, gave up two runs in the third inning, but ditched further damage with help from Yoshitani.
Yoshitani robbed the Vikings of at least one run with a running, over-the-head catch of Jeff Lambert's long drive. Yoshitani doubled up Greg Zuckerman, who had gotten back to first base in time but failed to retouch second base on the way.
The catch loomed more important when the next man, Albert Kolesar doubled, and Scott Stephens singled.
"The catch was the key play," Hence said. "If he doesn't catch that ball, we blow the thing wide open."
Yoshitani had a big day at the plate as well as on the bases, singling twice, driving in a run and stealing two bases.
"This is my first year playing the outfield and I've had some pretty tough games," Yoshitani said. "I've had trouble with line drives going over my head, but on this one, I ran back, stuck my glove up and got it."
Clouser was not threatened until the seventh when Zuckerman and Lambert had back-to-back singles.
"He's (Clouser) 5-0, but every inning you're on the cliff with him," Granada Hills Coach Darryl Stroh said. "He throws too much, but he's a battler. He's always coming at you."
The Highlanders got to Monroe (4-3) starter Craig Reed for two runs in the fourth and three more in the sixth inning before he gave way to reliever John Valeri. Valeri surrendered two more in the seventh on Clouser's inside-the-park homer with Yoshitani aboard.
"I was a little tired running around the bases, but I like to hit," Clouser said. "I'd rather bat, because I'm more in the game."
Reed (2-2) gave up 10 hits and was the victim of five stolen bases and four Viking errors.
"I was just a little tired and a blister on my finger popped before the game," Reed said. "In the late innings I was dropping my arm and they were going after it."
The Highlanders were not able to contain Kolesar, who walked twice and scored in addition to his double. He has 12 hits in his last 23 at-bats.
"It's different this year because I don't have any injuries," Kolesar said. "When I go up there I know I'm going to hit it hard. It may not drop but I know I'll hit a line drive, somewhere."
Hence said Reed may have been affected by the balmy weather.
"He wasn't pitching poorly at all," Hence said. "The way the weather's been lately though I didn't want to risk hurting his arm. Somebody's got to win and somebody's got to lose. I'll just tell my players to keep swinging til something falls."