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Keppel's Big Finale, 4-3

SAN GABRIEL -- The Mark Keppel High baseball team ended its season with a 4-3 come-from behind victory on the road to San Gabriel High on Friday.

Down, 3-1, the Aztecs tied the game in the top of the sixth inning and went ahead in the top of the seventh inning for the victory.
Mark Keppel coach Houston Hernandez was happy with the way his team stayed in there.

"It was one of those games where somebody had to lose," Hernandez said. "That's the one thing our record won't show. We've never stopped playing and rolled over for anyone in (the Almont League.)"

Not counting the games they played against each other, the Aztecs and Matadors were a combined 1-35 entering Friday's game. With the win, Mark Keppel improved to 3-19 overall and 3-12 in league, with two wins coming against San Gabriel and one against Schurr High.

In fact, Hernandez said he cannot remember a season when the Aztecs finished the season with at least three wins.

With the loss, San Gabriel finished the year 1-19 overall and 1-14 in league.

Tied at 3 in the top of the seventh, Aztec left fielder Justin Nunez drew a leadoff walk. After being sacrificed to second by Aztec pitcher Nick Leonard, shortstop Max Katz singled him in on an RBI hit to center field for the victory.

"It took me something like 23 games to get that hit," Katz said of the game winner. "It feels good to finally pull it out. We'll really practice hard and have a stronger, more unified team next year."

Right hander Eddie Escandon took the loss for the Matadors to fall to 0-4. He pitched a complete game, but surrendered four runs on five hits with four strikeouts and seven walks.

Escandon got off to a shaky start, pitching to a full count on the first three batters he faced to open the game and gave up two singles to Katz and center fielder Matt Chidez and a walk as the Aztecs got on the board early, 1-0.

Escandon then settled down nicely until the sixth where a walk, a double and an error on Matador right fielder Alberto Mendez tied up the game.

Tim Aguilar got the start for Mark Keppel as he was just moved up from junior varsity, but got into trouble in the third and fourth, allowing an RBI double to tie the game at 1 in the third and a home run in the fourth to San Gabriel left fielder Adolfo Rodriguez.

The Matadors tied the game in the bottom of the fourth with two outs on a dropped pop fly by Aztec right fielder Evan Bahnmann.
Aguilar, who was relieved by Leonard, finished the day pitching four innings and allowing three runs on four hits, with three strikeouts, three walks and three hit batsmen.

Leonard came in and shut the door on San Gabriel, getting the win to improve to 3-3. He threw three shutout innings on two hits, one strikeout and one walk.

"I just tried not to give up any walks and let my defense play behind me, let them pick me up," said Leonard, who is hoping to study psychology next year at Cal State Los Angeles and hopefully play baseball there. "Location was my key."

As for next year's team, Hernandez said practice should begin in June and that he is looking forward to an improved squad in 2011.

"I like what we got coming back," he said. "It's said to see the seniors go, but I like the foundation they left and where they left us."

(Shel Segal can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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