It’s something Glendale first-year Coach Alan Eberhart had running through his mind Friday, leading up to the first of two season matchups against cross-town rival Hoover. If the Nitros had a quality scoring opportunity, Eberhart said he would not hesitate to send a runner home on a close play at the plate.
The situation came to fruition Friday and Eberhart’s gamble paid off for Glendale in a 1-0 Pacific League victory.
In the fifth inning, Sean Harris scored from second on an infield hit by Connor Rodriguez off the thigh of Hoover starting pitcher Luis Zamora. The ball caromed toward second base and the second baseman scrambled to pick the ball up before throwing home, but Harris slid in just ahead of the tag.
“We’ve hit the ball hard lately, but we just can’t find the runners and get them home,” said Eberhart, whose team improved to 6-12-1, 3-5 in league. “Knowing that, I was going to send [Harris] home all the way.
“Connor had to make contact there and he did. We got a break because we have lost so many close games.”
Rodriguez, a freshman second baseman, saw the ball deflect off Zamora, but didn’t see Harris scamper home safely.
“I figured it might be a close play [at first base] after the ball hit the pitcher,” Rodriguez said. “I thought [Zamora] was going to catch the ball, but it’s a play where anything can happen.”
Hoover (10-8, 3-5) had several scoring chances. However, the Tornadoes couldn’t solve junior starting pitcher Jack Porras.
Porras limited Hoover to four hits in a complete game effort. The right-hander struck out seven, including the final batter of the game with runners on second and third.
“He did a great job throwing the ball,” Eberhart said. “He will get better.”
Hoover had its leadoff batter reach base safely to start the third and fourth. Porras quelled each threat by getting a strikeout to end both innings.
Hoover second-year Coach Brian Esquival said the Tornadoes encountered some tough breaks.
“Louie pitched a great game and our defense made the plays behind him,” Esquival said. “That was just an unlucky break for us on their run.
“We just didn’t do enough when we had runners in scoring position. Tip your cap to Porras and give credit where credit is due. He pitched a gem.”
The teams will close out the regular season May 16 at Hoover.
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich.