There was no way Nelson Barreiro was going to allow another Latin Academy comeback.
After the Dragons forced extra innings the last time they played English by scoring two runs in the seventh inning, Latin Academy on Wednesday once again found itself down, 2-0, with one last chance at a comeback.
After junior Jesse Miller drew a walk in the first at-bat of the seventh inning, it looked like history might repeat itself.
“When the first batter got to first base, I was like, ‘Oh damn, it’s going to happen again,' ” Barreiro said. “I started looking at first base and realized he took a lot of space so I threw the ball to the first baseman.”
After Miller was picked off, all the momentum Latin Academy had was gone. Barreiro struck out the next batter, one of his 11 on the afternoon, and completed a 2-0 win.
“This game was like a playoff game,” Barreiro said. “We played hard, we hustled, we were swinging, pitching, we played defense; all of it.”
The win was English’s third straight over Latin Academy, including the earlier extra-innings win and the one in last year’s city championship.
It was the second straight good game for Latin Academy pitcher Vincent Lopriore, as well. The senior had eight strikeouts to go with a double and a single.
“You have two really good pitchers out there and it makes the game that much cleaner,” Latin Academy coach Anthony Bernazzani said. “Both teams are really into it, it’s good intensity, good rivalry, and when you got two good pitchers throwing like that, every run counts; every play counts.”
That’s the mentality English freshman Stanley Vargas had when he approached the plate in the fifth inning. After driving in Frankely Gonzalez in the second inning with a single, Vargas hit a shot to deep right field to plate Miguel Calderon from second base.
“I was just looking at Nelson,” Vargas said of his reaction to the hit. “He’s pitching and we told him we’re going to get that win for him.”
Barreiro showed his appreciation for the freshman after the game.
“He’s a freshman and he plays like a senior,” Barreiro said. “He’s going to play hard every day.”
Even though he was aware of Latin Academy’s previous comeback against his team, coach Ricardo Figueroa said he never lost confidence that Barreiro would complete the shutout.
“Nelson is not going to give up,” Figueroa said. “He’s tough, he’s going to give you the heart; he’s awesome.”
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