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Eagles deny perfecto

Posted: Tuesday, Mar 19th, 2013

Watsonville High’s Chris Rivera pitches in the second inning Monday night at Watsonville High. (Glenn Cravens/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — The baseball gods twirled their fingers around the Watsonville High diamond, teasing the fans who packed the stands on the chilly Monday night.

The host Wildcatz went from nearly waking up the neighbors on Blackburn Street with a history-making moment to watching Alvarez High rally for a 2-1 win in eight innings.

The loss ended Watsonville’s four-game winning streak. Then again, the only streak most people were talking about after the game was the one Chris Rivera was on that night.

Rivera was the maestro on the mound, pitching the home team to within one strike of a perfect game. He knew he had a perfect game going and looked to seal the deal in the seventh after his teammates squeaked out a run.

The start of the seventh inning looked like the other six that preceded it. Rivera said he didn’t want to change anything given that everything was working well.

The first Alvarez batter in the seventh flied out to left field. The next batter whiffed on a 2-2 pitch.

Andrew Garcia stood in the way of destiny. Two strikes went by before Rivera threw a pitch in the dirt. Rivera paced around the mound and went back to the rubber.

On the 1-2 pitch, Garcia hit a grass cutter to the left side of the infield and ran with all of his might. He beat the throw to first base, and the Alvarez faithful roared in approval.

The Eagles went from nearly getting perfected to having a rally. And they capitalized.

A bad pickoff throw allowed Garcia to advance to second. The next batter, Fernando Aguillon, hit a grounder that found its way into centerfield, bringing home Garcia to tie the game at 1-1.

Alvarez, looking for something all game, finally answered the Wildcatz who scored in the bottom of the sixth.

With one out, James Duran ripped a single to centerfield. After a popout, Dimitrio Navarro hit a fly ball to centerfield. The centerfielder came in and got a glove on it but didn’t secure the ball, falling down in the process.

Duran added to the wind chill factor by speeding all the way around from first to give Watsonville a 1-0 lead and the run they thought would be enough in its bid for history.

For the complete article see the 03-19-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-19-2013 paper.

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