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El Segundo Earns Trip to State; Westchester Loses in a Rout : Baseball: Gahr cannot capitalize El Segundo errors and falls, 6-4, in Area 4 title game.


Coach John Stevenson wanted to talk more about El Segundo's upcoming trip to the state tournament rather than his team's play against Gahr in the American Legion Area 4 championship Thursday night in Long Beach.

And who could blame him?

El Segundo (29-7) won, 6-4, despite committing five errors and stranding 13 baserunners. It needed to score two runs in the top of the ninth inning to break a 4-4 tie and win its second area championship in three years.

"We played such great games leading up to today," Stevenson said. "Today was a little bit more of a struggle. But the bottom line is we found a way to get it done."

El Segundo finished 5-0 in the eight-team double elimination tournament to notch its eighth area title in 17 years under Stevenson.

El Segundo opens play in the six-team state tournament in Yountville on Aug. 7.

Gahr (15-5), which finished 3-2 in the tournament, needed to defeat El Segundo twice on Thursday to win the title.

After stranding baserunners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth innings, Gahr batters were retired in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings by reliever Frank Bignami (1-2).

Bignami, a right-hander who pitched 7 2/3 innings of relief, had two hits to lead an 11-hit attack. Lawrence Norris, Mike Poor, and Jamin Kear also had two hits.

"I thought we'd do OK once we got in the ballgame," Bignami said. "I think we relaxed a little bit knowing we only had to win one. It took a while before we decided we didn't want to play another nine innings."

Norris, who walked to start the ninth, scored the winning run on a chopper up the middle by Poor. With the bases loaded, Jake Coulet was hit by a pitch to force home Poor to give El Segundo a 6-4 lead.

El Segundo sent nine batters to the plate during a three-run fourth to rally from a 3-1 deficit.

Marco Estrada singled in Coutlet, the recipient of one of four walks off Gahr starter George Castillo, to cut the deficit to 3-2. Pat Cappasola scored the tying run on a wild pitch.

Poor brought home catcher Ryan McCloskey with the go-ahead run on a bloop single over the outstretched glove of second baseman Danny Gutierrez.

"It wasn't nerves, we just didn't play a very good game," said McCloskey, who had a first-inning double.

Gahr tied the score, 4-4, in the fifth. Chuck Lopez tripled to center field and scored on a ground ball by Mike Alvarez.

El Segundo took a 1-0 lead in the second. Bignami scored from first on a double to right-center field by Kear. Bignami reached base on a dropped fly ball by Daniel Acevedo.

Gahr scored three runs in the bottom of the second for a 3-1 lead. Kear loaded the bases with three consecutive walks before making way for Bignami.

Roy Burgueno drove in Abel Orozco on an infield grounder and Val Pascucci came in with the second run on a wild pitch. Burgueno scored from first on a triple by Gutierrez for the third run.

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