It has become so routine, you can almost set your watch and expect the ballgame to end in about an hour and 45 minutes.
For the fourth time this season, Pete Montera of Kennedy High School pitched a shutout and didn't waste much time in the process, limiting La Quinta to five hits in a 5-0 victory Friday in a Garden Grove League game at La Palma.
Montera (7-1) threw 78 pitches and didn't allow a runner to reach third base, shutting out La Quinta for the second time this season. Montera retired 13 of the last 14 batters.
"If you can call a shutout routine, that's what Pete's been doing," said Chris Pascal, Kennedy coach. "We gave up an unearned run in two of the games he's pitched, or he could easily have six shutouts."
Montera mixed an effective slider with a good split-fingered fastball in establishing a school record for shutouts in a season and lowering Kennedy's already dazzling team earned run average of 1.90 even lower.
Kennedy (16-4, 8-1) scored all the runs Montera needed in the first inning when another pitcher of note, Greg Hansell, drove a triple to the gap in right-center field that scored teammates Craig Roah and Steve Rath.
Only last week, Hansell pitched a perfect game against Garden Grove. The Montera-Hansell tandem is among the top pitching combinations in Orange County and is a big reason the Irish are contending for their first league championship since winning the Freeway League title 20 years ago.
"Pitching is 90% of this game, and they're certainly getting some great pitching," said Dave Demarest, La Quinta coach. "I told the team that he had to get to Montera early if we wanted to win. He gets better in the late innings."
La Quinta (15-5-1, 6-3) had its only good scoring chance erased by some poor judgement on the bases in the first inning. Jason Cherms led off with a single and went to second on an error, but Cherms was thrown out at third attempting to advance on a grounder to short by Joe Russo.
Jason Parsons singled for the second hit of the inning, but a double play wiped out what started as a potentially good inning for La Quinta.
Afterward, Montera said a decision not to play basketball this year allowed him to become a better pitcher.
"I got to do a lot more throwing before the season started, and I think that's helped me in the late innings," he said. "I also have to credit my teammates for making the plays.
"I only had two strikeouts today, so they had to be making the plays. We got some timely hits and played good defense, which makes things a lot easier for me on the mound."
Left fielder Scott Ethington and right fielder Don Cochran led Kennedy's nine-hit attack with two hits each, and Montera even got into the act by driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the second inning.
Bolsa Grande 18, Garden Grove 1--Bolsa Grande pounded out 20 hits, three doubles and four home runs. Toby Ulemek hit two home runs and drove in five runs and Rick Tantardini went four for four with five RBIs and a home run. Bolsa Grande improved to 10-8 overall and 3-5 in league. Jerry Maldonado went the distance, allowing one unearned run on three hits.
Rancho Alamitos 10, Santiago 2--Chris Culbert went the distance, giving up two hits and striking out six. Culbert also went two for three with a double and a RBI. Rancho Alamitos is 9-8 overall and 3-5 in league. Santiago is 4-5 in league.