Katella High School's baseball season came to an abrupt end Wednesday, even before it took the field against Esperanza in what was supposed to be an Empire League showdown.
Knight Coach Tim McMenamin learned Wednesday morning that his team would have to forfeit Friday's final regular-season game against Los Alamitos because of a Southern Section rule limiting the number of games a team can play in one season. According to Southern Section rules, a team can play no more than 20 games, with two nonleague doubleheaders counting as one game each and each tournament counting as two games. If a team plays more than two nonleague doubleheaders, those doubleheader counts as two games each.
The Knights have played three nonleague doubleheaders. McMenamin said he was unaware of the rule limiting his team to two doubleheaders, so he thought the Knights had 19 games before playing Los Alamitos.
To make matters worse for the Knights, Esperanza second baseman Doug Saunders singled home Brent Bish for the winning run Wednesday in a 4-3 come-from-behind victory for the top-ranked Aztecs at Esperanza.
Esperanza (13-0, 21-1) clinched the league championship last week against El Dorado, but got more than it bargained for from a inspired Knight team that was unaware of the forfeit until after the game. The Knights needed to win their final two games to gain the final Empire League playoff spot, but the forfeit eliminated them.
The Knights (5-9, 11-14) went with 6-foot 5-inch right-hander Kevin Shaw (7-6), who sailed into the seventh inning with a 3-1 lead.
Shaw walked the leadoff hitter, Rick Lane, and Erik Franzen followed with a single. Bish then laid down a bunt that Knight third baseman Jeff Repoz fielded cleanly but threw over first base. Lane and pinch-runner Craig O'Connor scored to make it 3-3, and Bish moved around to third.
Shaw got Bart Goldman to ground out and then intentionally walked Kevin Short and Tom Redington to load the bases. With the infield drawn in, Saunders lined a single to center for the game-winning RBI.
Roger Weems picked up the win for Esperanza. The sophomore, working only the seventh inning, struck out two to pick up his eighth victory of the season and sixth in league play.
Jason Moler started for the Aztecs and lasted four innings until he reinjured his left hamstring in the top of the fifth. Rob Nay came on in relief and pitched two innings, giving up two runs before giving way to Weems. Moler, Nay and Weems combined for a three-hitter.
Esperanza had 10 hits, three by Saunders and two each by Goldman and Lane. The Aztecs have won 16 consecutive games.
"Shaw was tough on us," said Mike Curran, the Aztec coach. "Give us credit. We battled back as this is the kind of game that gets you ready for the playoffs."
El Dorado 9, Cypress 3--Kevin Schula (3-1) gave up five hits, three runs and struck out four in four innings for the win at El Dorado. Bret Boone was 3 for 3 with two home runs and four RBIs and Scott Tomko was 2 for 2 with an RBI to lead the Golden Hawks (10-3, 18-4). Ron Brown (5-5) gave up eight hits and eight runs for the Centurions (5-7-1, 12-13). If Cypress defeats Loara Friday to tie Los Alamitos for third, the Centurions would gain the league's final playoff berth by virtue of their 1-0-1 series edge over the Griffins.
Loara 18, Kennedy 3--The Saxons (5-8, 15-9) scored 14 runs in the first inning at Kennedy. Joe Pactwa had three doubles and six RBIs, Jeff Patterson had three hits and two RBIs, Dan Rodriguez had three hits and scored three runs and Alan Evans had two hits and scored three runs for Loara. Patterson (6-5) was the winning pitcher. Kennedy is 3-10, 8-17.
Pacifica 9, Los Alamitos 5--Shelby Hart had a two-run single for the Mariners (5-8, 10-11) in the fourth inning to put them ahead, 5-4. Rick Brodt hit a solo home run, Mike Short had two hits and Bobby Thome a double for Pacifica. Todd Long (3-2) got the victory and Randy Hines (4-5) took the loss. Brett Pagett and Mike Scott hit home runs for Los Alamitos (5-7-1, 9-13-1).