It came as no surprise that the final Mid-Valley League game between Kennedy and San Fernando High was as close as it was.
Both entered Tuesday's game at San Fernando as equal as two teams could get.
They were tied for second place with 9-5 records; they had beaten each other once during the season; the Golden Cougars had a five-game winning streak; and the Tigers had won their last nine of 11 games.
But Kennedy, behind a strong pitching performance by Eric Evans, held on to win, 1-0, and take sole possession of second place.
The win advances the Golden Cougars to the first round of the City 4-A playoffs against Reseda, the third-place finisher in the West Valley League, May 31 at home. San Fernando finishes the season in third place and will face the second place team from the Marine League.
The Golden Cougars finished with six hits and stranded five runners. The Tigers had four hits and left four men on. Evans, who had nine strikeouts, improved his record to 8-2 as he heads into the playoffs with an 0.10 earned run average.
"It was a fine pitching game," Tiger Coach Steve Mardin said. "Both pitchers pitched extremely well and both defenses played well also. We got a few hits, but they got one more hit and it made the difference in the game."
That hit came in the top fourth inning with nobody out. Shortstop Greg Synott hit a Junior Gonzales pitch in the gap in right-center field that went for a triple. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Bill Pickets.
But some strong defensive plays on both sides probably prevented this game from being a more high-scoring affair.
In the bottom of the third inning with one out, Rene Lopez hit a single up the middle. Center fielder Corey Holst attempted to fool Lopez into thinking he had missed the ball, but it back-fired when Lopez beat the throw to second base. Holst, however, made amends by throwing Lopez out at the plate on a single hit by Alfonso Contiveros.
The Tigers had two more chances to score, but two double plays, including one in the bottom of the seventh inning, shut them down.
Mardin was disappointed with the loss, but still thinks the City 4-A championship is up for grabs.
"Everybody talks about where you placed, who you lost to and things like that," he said. But, frankly, it doesn't matter.
"In the playoffs, it doesn't make a difference who were playing in the first round or the second round, we've got to win three in order to get to Dodger Stadium," Mardin added. "But you've got to beat the good guys if you want to get there."