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Willow Glen, Rose Garden: Costantino, Alvarez come up big for Rams

Photograph by Keith Tharp Willow Glen’s Owen Vannest, taking a cut in last Thursday’s 7-3 loss at Leland, had a big week for the Rams in their split with the Chargers. Vannest was 3 for 7 and scored three runs in the two games for the Rams.

Joey Costantino and Jacob Alvarez are among the smaller players on the Willow Glen baseball squad this season, but the two certainly came up big for the Rams last week.

Costantino, who hits in the No. 2 slot in the batting order, and Alvarez, who bats in the second lead-off spot at No. 9, combined to 6 for 8 with five walks and seven runs scored to help the Rams to an important 12-3 win over Leland and near comeback in a tough 7-3 loss to the Chargers.

The split proved big for both Willow Glen and Leland, who entered the two-game series with first place in the Mt. Hamilton Division of the Blossom Valley Athletic League on the line. The two clubs sit in a virtual tie for first place in the division with Leigh.

While the Rams and Chargers were splitting last week, Leigh was two-timing Santa Teresa, winning 4-2 in eight innings before rolling to a 6-0 win on a no-hitter by sophomore ace Mitchell Dowd.

The three clubs entered play this week even in the loss column, but Willow Glen sat a half game up in the standings with an 8-2 record, compared to matching 7-2 marks for the Chargers and Longhorns.

There will be plenty of the games over the final two weeks of the season that could break that tie. Leigh and Willow Glen were to collide in a key two-game series this week, the teams opening the week in a Tuesday game at Leigh before squaring off on Thursday at Willow Glen.

The Longhorns, who finish the regular season with a two-game set against winless Branham (May 9 at home, May 11 at Branham), still have a crucial make-up game to play against Leland, likely Monday or Friday of next week.

Willow Glen finishes up against rival Lincoln (May 9 at home, May 11 at Lincoln).

Leland, meanwhile, was to take on a scrappy Santa Teresa club in two games this week (Tuesday at ST, Thursday at home) before finishing regular season play against up-and-coming Pioneer (May 9 at Pioneer, May 11 at home). The Mustangs entered play this week at Westmont on Tuesday riding a five-game winning streak. Pioneer plays host to the Warriors on Thursday.

All games begin at 4 p.m.

Rams split

Costantino and Alvarez were on base a combined six times and scored a combined five runs in Willow Glen’s 12-3 win over the Chargers to open the week.

Matt Miller delivered a clutch double with the bases loaded to drive in three runs, Isaac Munoz doubled home a pair, Charles Falcone and Owen Vannest had two hits apiece and Tyler Rando contributed a double and a sacrifice fly.

The Rams scored a run in the first, two in the second, three in the third and four in the fourth on the road to the important win. They closed out the scoring with two in the fifth.

Senior right-hander Davis Miller was the beneficiary of the offensive explosion. He went the distance, scattering 10 hits while striking out three, walking just one and hitting a batter, to pick up the mound win.

D. Miller worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and the Rams gave him the early lead in the bottom of the inning when Rando doubled to center and scored when M. Miller reached on an error.

Willow Glen took advantage of another Leland two-out error to score two runs in the second, and after Leland picked up a run in the third to cut the lead to 3-1, the Rams took control with three in the third.

Costantino worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch and moved to second on Rando’s infield roller. M. Miller reached on an error to put runners on the corners and D. Miller drove in Costantino with a ground out. Falcone singled, then Munoz drilled a two-out double down the left-field line to knock in two runs.

The Rams put the game away with the four-run rally in the fourth, the big blow the three-run double by M. Miller.

The Tuesday win put the Rams a game up on Leland in the division standings, but the Chargers came back two days later to nail the 7-3 win at home.

Leland took a 6-0 lead into the sixth inning before Willow Glen could get onto the scoreboard. Costantino walked, took second on a single by Rando, went to on a double-play and scored when D. Miller reached on an error.

The Chargers got that one back with a run in the home half of the sixth, but the Rams weren’t about to go down without a fight.

Falcone walked on a 3-2 pitch but was called out when he was struck between first and second on a single by Vannest. Alvarez beat out an infield hit before Noah Blom walked to load the bases. Costantino delivered a two-run single to cut the lead to 7-3.

But with runners at first and third and the potential tying run in the on deck circle, Leland got the last two hitters on a line drive and a strikeout.

Costantino was 2 for 2 with a couple of walks and Alvarez added two hits. Rando, Falcone and Vannest each singled in the game.

Willow Glen wrapped up the week with a solid 8-0 non-league win over Burlingame on Saturday.

Matthew Malone, Daniel Aguaristi and D. Miller teamed to toss a five-hit shutout for the Rams. Malone tossed five innings to get the mound win, striking out two and walking two while allowing just three hits. Aguaristi and D. Miller each flipped an inning of relief.

Alvarez singled and doubled to drive in three runs, completing an exceptional week: 5 for 8, four runs and three ribbies.

Falcone and Vannest had two hits apiece and scored two runs each, Blom singled twice, Aaron Burriessci singled and drove home two, Munoz had a hit and two runs scored and Rando singled.

Lions lose

Lincoln dropped two games to Pioneer last week to slip to 2-8 in league play with just four left to play.

The Lions were to face winless Branham twice this week (May 2 at home, May 4 at Branham) before closing out the year with two against the Rams.

Lincoln battled Pioneer in the first game last week, but could manage just three singles—by Casey Bleicker, Enzo Filangeri and Xavien Turner—in a 2-0 loss to the Mustangs.

Starting pitchers Gus Murphy of Lincoln and Jacob Rincon were locked in a pitchers’ duel through four scoreless innings, but the Mustangs rallied for two runs in the fifth and that would prove the difference in the game.

The Lions had a shot in the sixth. Bleicker singled to left, and an out later, Adam Henriques walked. Robert Najar was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but a strikeout and a fly ball ended the threat.

Lincoln returned home to face Pioneer two days later, but the Mustangs broke the game open early with a seven-run rally in the third and cruised from there to an easy 11-2 victory.

Najar had a big day in the loss, ripping a solo homer in the sixth and also belting a double.

Wes Scoffone had two hits and Bryan Pantoja and Andrew Arteaga added singles for Lincoln.

BVAL Mt. Hamilton Division baseball standings (as of May 1): Willow Glen 8-2 (19-4), Leigh 7-2 (15-7), Leland 7-2 (14-5-2), Pioneer 6-4 (13-10), Westmont 6-4 (15-7), Santa Teresa 3-7 (6-13), Lincoln 2-8 (11-11), Branham 0-10 (6-16)