Minutemen, DeAnda shut down Southside in 29-4A opener
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In baseball, Memorial used to be one of those “take care of business” teams.
By way of explanation, district playoff contenders tend to talk about beating the teams they should beat and trying to steal a win or two from their peers. If Friday’s performance was indicative, the Minutemen aren’t a cellar dweller anymore – they have grown into one of those prospective contenders.
Memorial (4-7, 1-0) picked up a key win over a senior-laden team most District 29-4A observers expected to be among the challengers for a playoff spot, Southside (3-8, 0-1). Senior pitcher Ivan DeAnda allowed the Cardinals just two hits in the Minutemen’s 2-0 victory in the district opener at Edgewood Field.
“We’re mostly seniors, but we have (a few) juniors,” DeAnda said. “We want to win. We want to get to the playoffs this year.”
At the refurbished field on the campus of the Edgewood Fine Arts Academy, which was dedicated last April, Memorial used a classic combination of elements to seize the victory. The Minutemen made timely hits, played error-free defense and capitalized on their offensive opportunities to gain the upper hand on the Cardinals.
“I’m very pleased with the team’s performance,” Memorial coach Carlos Vasquez said. “We had good defense to back Ivan up. We’ve had a couple of games we lost because we failed to make the routine play. That’s something we’ve been working on a lot.
“When you play good defense, the kids are going to be motivated and give that extra effort. When they do that, you can accomplish good things.”
Memorial scored two runs on just two hits in the third inning, but that was all the offense it needed.
DeAnda retired 12 of the last 14 batters – a streak muddied by a dropped third strike on what would have been the final out – after giving up a leadoff single to Southside pitcher Casey Conrad in the fourth inning. Undaunted, the senior right-hander picked up his 15th strikeout of the game against the on-deck hitter.
“My fastball was really good,” said DeAnda, who called it his best outing of the season. “But my curveball was curving in. Hitters weren’t expecting it. The pitch of the night was my curve ball.”
The bottom five hitters in Southside’s batting order were a combined 0-for-13 against DeAnda. The Cardinals had scored 16 runs in its previous two games.
“He’s pitching well,” Vasquez said. “The last week or so, he’s been more dominating. The top six or seven guys, he was mixing it up against them. You had to show some respect to the top of their order.”
Memorial scored its runs in the third inning, with help from two Southside errors.
With one out after a running catch of a foul pop up by Southside catcher Aaron Peralta, Memorial’s Eliseo Cuevas beat out an infield single. Cuevas advanced on a wild pitch and scored the game’s first run on a throwing error off a well-played grounder.
Minutemen junior shortstop Steven Hernandez (2-for-3) was safe on the error and scored on another error, after moving up on a single from DeAnda. A dropped pop up gave Memorial a 2-0 lead.
“Steven’s hitting really well,” Vasquez said. “He’s moving guys around (the bases). When you have a good pitcher, you don’t need to score very much, but everybody’s hitting. It doesn’t have to be one of the top three.”
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