If Victor Rossano, a Saddleback High School pitcher, could control his curveball with the same kind of frequency that he throws it, he might never lose a game.
At least 90% of Rossano's pitches against Tustin Wednesday were breaking balls, but Rossano suffered two brief lapses--at the beginning and the end of the Sea View League game--that led to Tustin's 4-3 victory at Saddleback.
Rossano, a right-hander, walked four in the first inning, when Tustin scored two runs, and then walked Craig Morrison with the bases loaded and two out in the top of the seventh to give the Tillers their winning run.
The victory moves Tustin (9-3 in league, 14-7 overall) into a first-place tie with Saddleback (9-3, 15-7). The teams will play again Friday on the Tillers' field.
Between the first and seventh, Rossano pitched well. Tustin scored a run on Matt Lundin's RBI triple in the second, but Rossano shut down the Tillers for the next four innings, allowing one hit and striking out seven.
He finished with an eight-hitter and 12 strikeouts and caused several embarrassing moments for the Tillers, who couldn't hit his curve when it was over the plate and often chased it when it was in the dirt.
"We threw more curves in batting practice this week than we have in all our practices combined," Tustin Coach Vince Brown said. "It didn't make a difference."
What made a difference was the Tillers' ability to capitalize during Rossano's vulnerable moments. Monte Roberts walked with the bases loaded in the first, and Peter Pakes followed with an infield dribbler that scored Chris Floth with the second run.
In the seventh, Craig Gill hit a one-out single and stole second, and Lundin was intentionally walked. Floth followed with a single to load the bases, but Lundin was ruled out when he was nicked by Ty Davis' grounder while running from second to third.
Rossano (7-3) needed one more out to get out of the inning, but he walked Morrison on four pitches, allowing Gill to score. Jason Lavin then struck out.
The Roadrunners had 10 hits off Roberts, the Tustin starter. Saddleback scored two in the fourth on Paul O'Hearn's RBI single and Neil Carter's sacrifice fly and tied the score in the fifth on Brian Hoialmen's two-out single.
But Floth (9-1) relieved Roberts in the sixth and allowed one hit in two innings to earn the victory.
Corona del Mar 8, Estancia 4--The Sea Kings (5-7, 8-9) scored five runs in the third inning on two home runs and three doubles to defeat the Eagles (5-7, 8-14) at Estancia.
Andy McMillian was 2 for 4 with a home run and two runs scored, and Bob Hess was 2 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs to lead Corona del Mar. Hess (5-3) gave up seven hits and struck out four in six innings.
University 13, Newport Harbor 7--The Trojans (3-8-1, 8-14-1) scored seven runs in the sixth inning to erase a 7-6 Sailor lead. Jerry Gandara had a two-run single to put University ahead.
University scored three more runs in the sixth on a three-base throwing error. Craig Ainsworth was 3 for 3 and Casey Simpson was 3 for 5 for University. Newport Harbor is 2-9-1, 8-13-1.