McArthur Opens District Play With A Win Over Hollywood Hills
Jose Hernandez does not typically find himself clearing the table. As the McArthur Mustangs’ leadoff hitter, the sophomore usually finds himself on base and hoping that his teammates feast at the plate. But in Thursday’s district opener against Hollywood Hills, Hernandez found himself up to bat with the game tied and he delivered.
With runners on the corners in a tie ball game in the bottom of the fourth inning, Hernandez sent a slow roller to third base that drove in the go-ahead run. McArthur added on more runs late and went on to secure a 9-4 victory that positions the Mustangs in first place to start District 8A-15 competition.
Hernandez is just one example of the many exciting young players on the McArthur roster this year. Although only a sophomore, the second-year player is one of the veterans of the club. Thursday night he showcased his leadership with a big day at the plate and in the field, going 2-for-4 and scoring his team’s first run before later driving in the deciding run.
“As a leadoff hitter I try to do my job and get on base and be a catalyst for my team, but when a situation like that comes up I just try to embrace it and be a leader for my team as best as I can and get the RBI,” Hernandez said. “Off the bat I had confidence that I would get there to first. I like to set the example and lead by example, and just for me to be able to conduct myself on the field and off the field, I like to think that it influences my teammates.”
Hernandez also moved from the outfield to shortstop following a late pitching shift, only to come up with an incredible leaping catch to rob a base hit and end a Spartans’ rally bid in the sixth. The big play also helped back a solid relief performance from junior Yordys Valdes, who recorded the final four outs to earn the save.
It was an RBI single past the shortstop from Valdes that put McArthur (2-1) on the board in the first, and he also scored the final run of the night on a throwing error as part of a four-run sixth inning. winning pitcher Sammy Weisberg also had a big RBI in the sixth, his second RBI of the contest.
Both clubs came out swinging on Thursday, as they combined for 15 total hits and saw several other balls put into play that also led to errors.
After falling behind by a pair of runs early on, Hollywood Hills (1-3) rallied back and took the lead with four runs in the top of the third.
The Spartans nearly batted around the order their second time through. Leadoff hitter Kevin Linares got it started with the first of his two hits on the night, a single into right field. Catcher Luis Medina singled up the middle and was replaced by courtesy runner Dontae Anderson, and Jorge Gonzalez followed with a single to center.
The Mustangs’ defense responded by gunning down the lead runner at the plate, but the Spartans kept up the pressure as Christopher Maria reached on a fielder’s choice that loaded the bases.
After threatening several times, Hollywood Hills finally broke through. Juan Rosario stroked a shot into the right-center field gap for a double that drove in two, Nomar Urena was hit by a pitch that again loaded the bases and Jude Smith followed with an RBI single that drove in two more to put the Spartans ahead with a 4-2 advantage.
McArthur took the lead back for good with four runs in the fourth. Josue Figueroa singled and Hector Gonzalez was hit by a pitch. Weisberg followed with an RBI ground out and Steve Zamore was next with a shot into right field that tied things back up and brought Hernandez to the plate for his big moment.
McArthur has already matched the total number of wins it had in the district last season, but no one is celebrating anything yet. The best part of the day was that the young team got its feet wet in district play and experienced a tight and competitive contest that showed them all the intensity of those district meetings.
“Now we’ve got to keep working. One win is not anything; we’ve got to keep working and see what the season brings,” Hernandez said.