All Canyon High baseball Coach Wally Hammond wanted for his birthday was a victory over Golden League rival Saugus with first place on the line.
But it wasn't his players who wound up showering Hammond with gifts.
"They didn't even know it was my birthday," Hammond said after his team defeated Saugus, 4-1, on a windy Friday afternoon at Canyon. "I didn't want to give them anything else to think about."
Saugus' defense, however, was thoughtful enough to give Hammond some presents. The Centurions gift-wrapped Canyon's four runs--all unearned--for Hammond, then stuck Saugus pitcher Roger Salkeld with the bill.
Salkeld (2-2) blew down Canyon batters with a strong curveball. The 6-4 sophomore had a season-high 10 strikeouts and scattered five hits. But he suffered his second loss.
"They didn't do anything for him," Saugus Coach Doug Worley said about his team's defense, which committed six errors.
Canyon pitcher Ken Sollom (3-2) needed little support, pitching a two-hitter with nine strikeouts to record his second consecutive win.
"Kenny's in the groove right now," Hammond said. "If he stays right where he is, we'll be fine."
Saugus (4-3, 2-1 in league) squeezed in a run in the third when Brian Stothers laid down a perfect bunt as Rob Davis raced home.
Canyon (4-3, 3-0) answered with a run in the bottom of the inning when Sollom's soft grounder bounced under third baseman Tom Dodson's glove for an error to score Dave Tyson from third base.
In the fourth, Salkeld and catcher Jared Snyder got their signals crossed and Salkeld's pitch went all the way to the backstop. Eric Martinez, who had reached base on an error, scored on the wild pitch.
"A pitchout was called, but he threw a curveball," Worley said about the play. "We've had some confusion. We're not together yet."
Pinch-runner Vince Gallegos scored Canyon's third run when Saugus left fielder Glen MacKenzie muffed Jason Stanley's fly ball in the fifth. Dodson's second error resulted in Canyon's final run when he threw low to Stothers at second after fielding a potential double play ball. The ball skidded into right field and Eric Martinez scored from second.