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Cox, Mater Lakes Walk Off With 11-inning District Win

Mater Lakes’ Gabriel Cox (far right) celebrates after his game-winning hit Wednesday.

It was Senior Night at Paul Demie Maineri Field on the campus of St. Thomas University, and Mater Lakes’ Gabriel Cox made it a memorable one for the Bears.

The senior closer not only extended himself by pitching the final four innings, but also got the game-winning hit. Cox delivered a single in the bottom of the 11th inning that scored Pauly Monduy with the winning run in the Bears’ 2-1 win over LaSalle Royal on Wednesday in a 5A-15 game.

“A little ‘in-betweener’ there and it ends up a great game,” said Mater Lakes Manager Cesar Temes.

Mater Lakes (12-8, 4-2) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Bears’ lead-off batter Robert Montesinos was hit by a pitch and moved to second when Cox, who had three of the Bears’ six hits (3-for-6), executed a perfect bunt single. Montesinos eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from Nelson Williamson.

That lead held up until the seventh inning when LaSalle Royal (14-10, 1-5) pushed across the tying run. Lions’ junior third baseman Jesus Villacis, who made two incredible defensive plays robbing Mater Lakes of extra-base hits each time, singled to open the seventh inning. Joseph Fortuny moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt, and Brad McCormick brought him home with a clutch two-out, pinch-hit RBI single.

The game remained tied at 1-1 until the 11th inning as four pitchers, two from each team turned in dominant efforts.

But Cox ended the marathon with his walk-off single.

“I was just trying to put it in play, try to bring in that winning run to get a ‘W’ for my team,” Cox said. “I was looking for a fastball, but it was a curveball. I was just trying to take it the other way.”

LaSalle Royal starting pitcher Jacob Perea threw 8-plus strong innings.

Cox said he didn’t think his blooper in shallow right field would fall; “To be honest, not really,” he said. But it did drop in between three Lions players and that’s when Cox said he knew his team would win.

“Bringing home that ‘W’ that’s all I was thinking about,” he said.

Cox earned the win on the mound with four solid innings of relief, allowing just two singles while striking out five consecutive batters over the eighth and ninth innings.

“I just tried to go 1-2-3 as quick as I can,” said the Bears’ closer. “I usually go one to two innings. But today I went four and my arm was feeling good. I was feeling on top of the world. No fatigue at all.”

Bears’ starter Rene Arauz worked seven strong innings, striking out nine while scattering six hits.

“It was a very intense game,” Arauz said. “I tried to get everybody out as quick as possible, try to not let my defense do all my work. But they’ve always got my back, every pitch, every out.”

LaSalle Royal starter Jacob Perea was overpowering in 8 2/3 innings of work. He allowed just three hits while striking out seven.

Lions’ centerfielder Carlos Quintana had two of his team’s nine hits. Six different players from LaSalle Royal had one hit apiece.

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