ANAHEIM – Katella took a big step toward winning its fourth consecutive Orange League baseball title with a 9-1 victory over Century on Tuesday at Boysen Park.
The victory gave the Knights (15-7-1, 11-1) sole possession of first place in the Orange League, one game ahead of Century (18-5, 10-2). Magnolia (9-3 in league) is in third place.
Katella and Century split their first two league games this season and will play the rubber match Friday at Century High.
“It feels great for Katella baseball and the kids have been working so hard,” Katella coach Marcelo Miranda said. “Century is well-coached and is always ready to play. We look forward to a good game Friday.”
The middle of Katella’s batting order was outstanding Tuesday. Michael Hill drove in four runs with three hits and Dustyn Burleson drove in two runs with two doubles. Donovan Castaneda went 4 for 4 at the plate with two doubles and one RBI.
Katella began the offensive onslaught in the third inning. With two outs, Castaneda reached base on a single and Jesus Canul hit a double to give the Knights two runners in scoring position. Hill hit a run-scoring single and that was followed by a run-scoring double by Burleson to put Katella ahead 2-0.
“They did a good job making adjustments after we saw the pitcher once or twice,” Miranda said of his players. “We stopped chasing curveballs low and away and made him elevate the ball a little bit so we could be more successful.”
The Knights nearly batted around in the fourth inning and added five runs to their lead. With two runners on base, Castaneda hit a run-scoring double to give Katella a 3-1 lead. After an intentional walk, Hill hit a three-run double to clear the bases. Hill scored on a run-scoring double by Burleson to give the Knights a 7-1 lead.
The run support was plenty for Katella’s starting pitcher, Canul. The junior pitched a complete game, scattered six hits, allowed just one run and struck out four.
“Jesus battled his butt off today. It wasn’t the best stuff we’ve seen from him but he battled,” Miranda said. “It was probably the game he struggled the most in this season, to be honest. But give him credit for not folding or giving up. He worked hard for us.”
The Knights tacked on two runs in the sixth inning. Eric Serna hit a run-scoring single and Nathan Flores drove in a run with a groundout.
Century, ranked No. 5 in CIF-SS Division 5, had trouble hitting with runners on base. The Centurions went 2 for 10 with runners on base and scored their lone run in the fourth inning on a single by Adam Santana.
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