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La Cañada High baseball needs no-hitter, walk-off for win

Baseball: Combined no-hitter by Spartans hurlers helps pave way for 2-1 win against Monrovia.

March 15, 2013|By Emin Avakian, Special to the Sun

LA CAÑADA — It took a combined no-hitter and a walk-off hit, but nevertheless, the La Cañada High baseball team sealed a huge victory in its Rio Hondo League opener against Monrovia.

With runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh, La Cañada’s leadoff hitter, Jacob Yonan, recorded his second hit and drove in George Steckbeck to end a well-played, thrilling game with a 2-1 Spartans’ win Friday afternoon at La Cañada.

The walk-off effort handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season with the two teams set to face each other again April 10 at Monrovia. The Spartans will travel to South Pasadena on Tuesday for a league game.

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For now, the Spartans will revel and look to build on the program’s biggest win in recent memory.

“The guys battled out there,” said Spartans Coach Alex Valadez, who is in his first year at the helm after serving as assistant coach to Dennis Ballard the previous two seasons. “I’m almost speechless. This was a collective effort and I’m proud of our team.”

La Cañada’s Clayton Hermann picked up the win after getting a crucial strikeout and setting up the bottom half of the seventh heroics. Spartans starting pitcher Justin Lewis needed a no-hitter though 6 2/3 innings to keep up his end of a pitcher’s duel with counterpart Joe Mata.

Hermann relieved Lewis with two outs in the seventh and runners on first and second. Valadez admitted there was some hesitation about keeping the official no-hitter in tact, but strategy prevailed for the Spartans (3-1), as the right-handed Hermann struck out right-handed hitter Jacob Arfman.

“You always want to leave him in, but you gotta do what’s best for the team,” Valadez said. “There’s an emotional connection, but I needed to do what’s right for the team.

“Justin was lights out,” he added. “He was composed and picked his spots.”

Lewis gave up no earned runs, walked two (one intentional), hit two batters and struck out four. The junior said he would have liked to finish the game, but understood the decision.

“It would have been nice to have,” Lewis said. “Clayton works hard and he’s reliable. If there’s any uncertainty, he’s the guy you go with.”

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