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CIF/L.A. City Section 2022 Baseball Playoffs "Open" Div.

Roosevelt Loses Semi-Final Heartbreaker To Chatsworth

Coach Ray Ruiz Takes Riders To Highest Playoff Spot

(East Los Angeles, CA) June 5, 2022 [From The Editor’s Desk]: The Roosevelt Rough Riders, of Boyle Heights, didn’t have to travel very far to reach the campus of USC at Vermont and Jefferson in South Los Angeles, and its great baseball diamond, named after one of their All-Time managers, Rod Dedeaux. They arrived on a very hopeful and positive note that this could be their ticket to a Title shot in the “Open” Division to be played at Dodger Stadium, should they come away with a semifinal win over the (15-14), Chatsworth ChancellorsHere is our account with a very good Photo Gallery included for your viewing. 

{Pre-Game NotesThe day’s afternoon was perfect for baseball and so off we go to watch the #5 seed, Rough Riders play the #9 seed, Chatsworth Chancellors for the right to play for the “Open” Division Title game. The first-pitch was slated for 3:00 pm. And, the temperature was an even 82, the sun was high on a cloudless sky for another beautiful L.A. Spring afternoon. For reporting purposes, I had a great media seat along first base and over the visitor’s dugout at USC’s well-manicured and inviting Dedeaux Field. It was truly a magnificent and an appropriate field to play on for this Semifinal game of the CIF/LA City Section’s “Open” Division tournament. The decent sized crowd was boisterous and loyal as could be to their respective teams.

(Photo Gallery): Erik Sarni, East L.A. Sports Scene Productions, LLC – EastLASportsScene.Com

As a spectator and fan, the game was reminiscent of being at a Dodgers game in the sense of comparing it as a Microcosm to the Macrocosm, complete with the organ music blaring out of the large speakers. The nervous feeling of playing in a “winner take all” type of a big time game filled Dedeaux Field was palpable. In addition, there was a ton of media in Press Box Row, plus the “Live Streaming” of the game by the NFHS Network. There were also hundreds of devoted fans, parents, and student-bodies equally present, as well as a number of College and University scouts in attendance.

{Game Summary} The first two innings were plain, and just good old high school baseball with all of the typical fanfare of attending a game at Dodger Stadium could bring. The closeness of both crowds to the field and the players allowed fans to capture every pitch that loudly popped into the catcher’s glove, a lot of the field and dugout chatter, and the vibrant, but loud and high-pitched “pinging” sounds of the hardball making contact with the aluminum bats that were used by the players.

In the Chatsworth top of the third, starting Rough Riders pitcher, Lino Zepeda lost some of his early control and managed to walk the bases full. However, the steady Senior pitcher reclaimed his focus and then proceeded to strike out the side. Then in the Riders’ bottom half of the third, the game began to take on a different perspective as their bats began to connect on pitches and suddenly it was Roosevelt who was first on the scoreboard with the basic manufacturing of runs. First, an infield single on a hard grounder towards shortstop put a runner on first. Daniel Olmeda then doubled to shallow left with runners advancing to 2nd and 3rd base. Then, a two-run bloop single to center field by Elijah Salazar made it (2-0), Riders.

In the Chancellor’s top of the 4th, their lead-off batter failed to reach base and recorded the first out. The next bater laced a double to right center. He was then driven in by a single to center, but the batter was cut-down in trying to stretch it to a double on a great throw to second by the centerfielder. The score was now (2-1), Roosevelt. And there were now 2 outs. The next batter drew a walk followed by another to the next batter, filling the bases again for Zepeda. The 7th batter of the inning was struck-out by Zepeda, thus ending the productive inning for ChatsworthThe Riders went quietly in the 4th on a “1-2-3” inning. It was a fly-out to right, then a line-out, followed by a (5-3) put-out. 

In the visitor’s 5th they led-off with a base-on-balls. The second batter was put-out in a (1-3) play. Hitter #3 popped-up to the catcher, Matias Nolasco, but he dropped it. He came back and repeated the same at-bat and popped it up again to Nolasco for the 2nd out. Next, there was an intentional walk issued by Zepeda. And once again, he made it out of the inning with another inning ending strike-out. No runs and no hits.  

In the Roosevelt 5th, they went “1-2-3” for the second inning in a row on 2 fly-outs and a ground out. To start the Chatsworth 6th inning, Riders Coach Ray Ruiz was then forced to make a pitching change due to Zepeda’s having reached the limit on his allotted “pitch-count” of (105) out of the (115) limit. He sent in Andrew Contreras to relieve Zepeda, who pitched a great game through his strong five innings of work, striking out (8) walking (4), and surrendering just one run. Facing Contreras for the first time, Chatsworth once again went down in “1-2-3” order on two ground-outs to shortstop and ended it with a strike-out. 

In the Riders 6th inning at-bats, they got another rally started and led-off with a single to right. That was followed by ground out that went from (1-3). The runner advanced to second but was subsequently “picked-off” for out #2. The third Rider hitter drew a walk and stole second base. He was brought home on an RBI single to centerfield, moving the score to (3-1). The last out came on a (6-3) ground out. 

The 7th and final inning proved to be the great equalizer + 1, for the San Fernando Valley based school. The first batter singled to Center. Hitter #2 earned a walk. Then Octavio Bonilla slashed a hard, but sinking liner to right field that was misjudged by Zepeda who had been assigned to remain in the game as the right fielder. The official scorer ruled it a “triple” that drove in two to tie up the game at (3-3). The next batter then walked putting runners on first and third. Then on a slow roller to first, the rally’s 4th run scored on Bonilla’s sprint to home plate, barely beating the throw. A grounder to first base was then recorded for the first out. That was followed by a (6-5) put-out at third to make it 2 outs. There were still runners on base, when third baseman, Elijah Salazar, fielded a grounder and alertly tagged the lead runner for the 3rd out. The last Chancellor at-bats rally proved to be the deciding one for them. as they took the lead at (4-3).

To pitch the final Roosevelt at-bats in their half of the inning, Chatsworth reliever, Senior, Josh Pollack (southpaw) was sent out to pitch the final frame to record a save. The Riders couldn’t generate the offense that came earlier in the game and went down in a “1-2-3” order, a strike-out, a ground out, and a swinging third strike. And with that out, the ball game was over.   

 [FINAL SCORE]:  Chatsworth  4   Roosevelt  3

Our last impression centers on the fantastic cheering of both the Roosevelt and the Chatsworth crowds in alternating precision by inning, and the “ooooohs” and “ahhhhhs” of all of the good plays and the not so good. At the end of the day, it was a great Semifinal game to watch as these young and talented players performed at this very high level of competition. Congrats to both teams for earning their spot to “face-off” with each other. The Riders ended their remarkable season with a great and respectable (24-7) overall record and an (11-1) league record to earn themselves Champions of the Eastern League. Chatsworth went on to play the other Semifinalist, the Birmingham Charter School, on Saturday, May 28th in Dodger Stadium. The Chancellors went on to win that game as well, by the score of (2-0), thus earning themselves the Championship of the “Open” Division.

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