It wasn't exactly what Louis Perez was trying to accomplish. But it ended up being way more than he hoped for.
Perez, who moments earlier had been inches away from making the last out of the game, hit a pitch over the left-field fence for a two-out, three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Santiago an 8-6 victory over La Quinta Thursday in the Garden Grove League season-ending game for both teams.
The victory clinched third place in the league and a playoff spot for the Cavaliers (15-10, 9-5 in league), and left La Quinta (15-9, 8-7) on the bubble. The Southern Section playoff pairings will be announced Monday, with the top three teams in each league qualifying. Other teams can only hope for wild-card berths.
For the Cavaliers, Perez's smash capped a roller-coaster afternoon, during which their 5-1 lead after four innings evaporated.
The home run came on a one-ball, two-strike pitch by La Quinta starter Jim Livernois (7-3) with Geoff Noisey at second and Jaime Estrada at first. Perez, who had taken a close pitch for a ball with two strikes on him and then had barely tapped a grounder foul along the first-base line, capitalized on a mistake by the Aztec right-hander.
"It was a curve. I just wanted to get it to center field to score a run. He hung it," Perez said.
Livernois, a sophomore, struggled in the early innings but appeared to have settled down going into the seventh, particularly after the Aztecs rallied to take a 6-5 lead. But he walked Noisey to open the final inning and, after a sacrifice bunt by Robert Jung, walked Estrada. He then made Balfred Guzman his ninth strikeout victim in the game before Perez slugged his fourth homer of the season.
Perez, a senior right-hander who is the ace of the Santiago staff, pitched four innings for the Cavaliers but tired and left after pitching to one batter in the fifth. He lost to Livernois and La Quinta, 4-1, in their other league meeting this season.
"He had a sore arm. We've been nursing him along," Santiago Coach Myron Pines said. "We wanted to get about four innings out of him."
Perez was moved to first base with a four-run lead, but La Quinta kept creeping back against reliever Enele Scanlan, scoring three runs in the fifth and two in the sixth. Scanlan (2-1) picked up the victory.
Noisey was two for three with a double and three RBIs for Santiago. First baseman Bobby Ruiz was four for four with a double and two RBIs and second baseman Steve Lemmons was two for three with two runs scored for La Quinta.
In other league games:
Bolsa Grande 8, Pacifica 3--John Baughman hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning, doubled in another run in the sixth and pitched a nine-hitter, striking out eight, as the host Matadors ended a 10-game losing streak and the Mariners fell out of contention for a section playoff berth.
Paul Gill was three for four, with a fourth-inning solo homer, and drove in two runs for Bolsa Grande (5-19, 2-12).
Mike Greenburg went three for three, including a sixth-inning home run, for Pacifica (14-12, 7-7).
Kennedy 13, Los Amigos 2--Chris Clark allowed four hits, struck out nine and walked two as Kennedy clinched the league title. Devin Underwood had three hits, including two doubles, for Kennedy (18-8, 10-4). Although Kennedy and Garden Grove each finished 10-4 in league, Kennedy wins the title because it swept the two-game season series from the Argonauts.
Garden Grove 8, Rancho Alamitos 3--Senior Simon Fuentes went four for four and had three RBIs for the host Argonauts (14-8, 10-4). Brandon Hoalton added three hits and an RBI.