A small field and a strong arm ended Fullerton High School's season Friday night as the Indians lost to El Segundo, 9-4, in a Southern Section 3-A quarterfinal game at El Segundo Recreation Park.
El Segundo, taking advantage of its small home field, hit four home runs, including three in the sixth inning. The Eagles also got strong relief pitching from Zack Shinall, who struck out six of the 10 batters he faces and didn't allow a ball to be hit out of the infield.
El Segundo will play Western, a 3-1 winner over Tustin, in a semifinal game Tuesday.
At Recreation Park, it is just 320 feet to center field, 310 to right.
But the Indians, whose home field isn't large either, were the first to make use of the short fences.
Right fielder J.T Richards and left fielder Curt Daggett opened the game by striking out, but catcher John Mele kept the first inning alive by lining a double to right-center.
First baseman Jeff Bailey followed with a home run to center that gave Fullerton a 2-0 lead.
But the lead didn't last as Fullerton starting pitcher Stathy Papadatos ran into trouble in the bottom of the first.
It started innocently enough. Lead off man Jeremy Varner hit a slow roller to first base for the first out. But Papadatos hit Robert Markle with a pitch. Papadatos then struck out shortstop Willie Parsons.
But first baseman Heath Jones followed with a single to score Markle, who had stolen second base.
Jones moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Dennis Reed's double.
Left fielder Jose Sanchez then hit a home run over the center field fence to put El Segundo ahead, 4-2, and chase Papadatos, who had made only 25 pitches.
Jeff Middlebrooks came in to relieve Papadoatos and got the final out.
Middlebrooks held El Segundo scoreless for the next two innings, which was long enough for Fullerton to tie it.
Bailey hit his second home run leading off the fourth.
Second baseman Steve Parsons walked and went to second on a fielders' choice. With two out, third baseman Mick Mineni singled to score Parsons and make it 4-4.
But leads for Fullerton Friday were merely a temporary thing.
Scott Talanoa led off the El Segundo fourth with a single. Alan Goldman followed with a bunt that Mele had trouble picking up. As Mele made the throw to first for the out on a close play, Talanoa--all 6-foot, 5-inches of him--chugged around second and headed toward third, which no Fullerton player was covering.
As Talanoa lumbered, five Indians gave chase, but Talanoa beat all of them to bag. He would score soon after on Varner's squeeze bunt.
The Eagles fattened that lead in the sixth when Talanoa, Parsons and pinch-hitter Tony Parente hit home runs.