BASEBALL: Buttons make St. Anthony gamble backfire for walkoff win

Olvera triple puts Central Catholic in position

AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Central Catholic.


Central Catholic turned a risky move by St. Anthony into a sort of April Fools joke against the Yellowjackets.

On April 1 at Kahlig Park, St. Anthony tied the District 2-5A game in the top of the seventh. A leadoff triple by Buttons senior Chris Olvera in the bottom of the inning made the visitors take action.

The Yellowjackets opted to walk the bases loaded, to bring about a force play with the winning run on third base. St. Anthony reliever Gibby Rodriguez followed the two intentional walks with a strikeout, after falling behind 3-0 in the count. That brought up Eric Cantu, who walked on four pitches to give Central Catholic (7-9-1, 1-0) a 6-5 comeback victory.

“That’s a tough call,” Central Catholic coach Mike Gomez said of the intentional walk. “Like I told the guys, I don’t think I’d put my pitcher in that situation. That’s a lot of pressure. But we put their backs against the wall.”

Olvera was Central Catholic’s starting pitcher. He turned the ball over to Andres Alvarez with St. Anthony (7-5, 0-2) leading 3-1 after four innings.

“I already knew they were bringing in a new pitcher,” Olvera said of leading off the seventh. “I wanted to do something to get my team going. I felt like I didn’t pitch as well as I could have.”

Olvera drove the triple to the right-center field gap on a 1-2 pitch.

“I was looking for something slower,” he said. “I knew he wasn’t going to throw me a fastball, not to take anything away from their pitcher. At the beginning of the season, I was hitting the ball. Now I’m trying to get that back.”

St. Anthony started the game with an inside-the-park home run from leadoff hitter Henry Sanchez. Gomez said the hit should not have allowed Sanchez to circle the bases.

“It kind of put me down,” Olvera said. “After that, it took me a little while to get my rhythm. I wasn’t expecting any errors. I trust my defense completely.”

Central Catholic, which played error-free, evened the score in the bottom of the inning. Junior Max Grullon’s double brought in Ethan Rodriguez, who had singled.

“That was big,” Gomez said, “to hit the ball hard in the (gap) and get one back.”

The Yellowjackets’ Matt Arevalos regained the lead with a two-run triple in the third. A sacrifice fly from Julian Cantu increased St. Anthony’s lead to 4-1 in the fifth.

The Buttons forged a tie in the bottom of the inning. Rodriguez (2-for-3) lined an RBI single to center. A pair of St. Anthony errors and Garrison Lange’s two-run triple made it 4-4.

Grullon and Lange were issued intentional walks in the seventh after Olvera’s triple.

“They fought,” Gomez said of his team, “which they hadn’t been doing. I was excited to see them play well.”

Eric Cantu walked, stole second and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth on senior Nash Noal’s two-out double. St. Anthony forced Central Catholic to bunt in the seventh when Chris Gutierrez scored on a wild pitch, however, Buttons reliever Justin Dylla recorded three consecutive outs to strand a runner at third.

Dylla’s save was a good sign for a team that has been working to fortify its pitching staff.

“He came in and threw strikes,” Gomez said. “That was big. That’s a step right there.”

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