GLENDALE — The Hoover High baseball team learned something valuable in its game Friday against Arcadia.
Hoover, which has been among the lower-positioned teams in the Pacific League in recent years, was not intimidated by Arcadia, which has been a league title contender for decades. In fact, the Tornadoes might just have received a boost in realizing they could play with the Apaches.
Despite losing a 6-2 Pacific League contest at home, the Tornadoes walked away from the game encouraged and not at all forlorn.
The problem for the Tornadoes (8-3, 1-1 in league) is they fell behind, 6-0, against the Apaches (7-6, 2-0) and couldn’t quite claw their way back.
“Although we fell behind early, you could see that the guys were fighting back and they were battling for everything,” Hoover Coach Brian Esquival said. “That wouldn’t have happened with last year’s squad. If it was last year, they would have just given up and not had that fight. But these guys have that fight.
“Arcadia wasn’t overpowering to us and they really didn’t do things that we couldn’t deal with. They just made the most of their opportunities and that’s when they scored their runs.”
It was missed opportunities that proved detrimental for the Tornadoes. In two innings they had players lead off with base hits. In another inning, the Hoover leadoff batter reached base on an error. However, in all three instances, the Tornadoes couldn’t push across a run.
“We had a couple of good opportunities to maybe push a run across in some of those innings, but we weren’t able to do it,” Esquival said. “We put ourselves in a situation that we had to chase four runs in the last inning and that’s just not who we are; we’re just not a team that can score four runs in an inning. When we have those opportunities, we have to take advantage of them and push a run across, just to keep it a little bit closer.”
Hoover also committed three errors.
“That is the most errors we’ve made all year,” Esquival said. “We’re usually a lot more steady than that.”
The Apaches made things difficult for the Tornadoes from the get-go, touching up Hoover starter Luis Zamora for three runs in the top of the first inning. Two consecutive singles, followed by a double and an infield error helped the Apaches plate the runs to take a 3-0 advantage.
Arcadia added to its lead by scoring two more runs in the second inning off two hits, including a run-scoring single by AJ Jimenez and a run-scoring double by Michael Luna.
Hoover had a chance to eat into the lead in its half of the second when Jonathan Ramos (one for two with a walk and a run scored) began the frame with a single to right field. He was moved over to second on a groundout and took third on a balk. However, he was left stranded after two strikeouts.
“When they took that lead it put the pressure on us,” Ramos said. “It was just tough to have to come back that far after being behind.”
In the fourth inning, Fidel Hernendez opened with a base hit to left. But the Tornadoes hit into two consecutive fielder’s choices and ended the threat with a strikeout.
The Apaches tacked on another run in the fifth to take a 6-0 advantage.
Hoover finally got on the board in the sixth inning. With two out, Hernendez and Ramos reached base on consecutive walks and Javier Cisneros got aboard on an error. The next batter, Ethan Turpan, blasted a double high off the left-field fence to score Hernendez and Ramos.
The Tornadoes also had two runners on base in the seventh, including the leadoff batter, but left them stranded.
The game was interrupted in the fifth after a scary incident. An Arcadia player was struck in the head with a bat by a teammate and collapsed on the dugout floor. Play was stopped and the player was attended to by Glendale Fire. He appeared to be alert as he was carried off on a stretcher to seek medical attention.
“That is just one of those things that is really scary,” Esquival said. “I feel for the kid, but I also feel for his teammate. But it looked as if the kid was awake and responding, so that was good.”
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.