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Spartans unable to hold early lead

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POSTED May 4, 2010 2:27 a.m.
LATHROP — Lathrop High’s first-ever Valley  Oak League varsity win nearly came at the expense of coach Randy Baltazar’s former team.

Weston Ranch, where Baltazar was an assistant under Dave Smith two years ago, battled back from an early two-run deficit and exploded for four in the top of the seventh to escape with a 5-3 victory.

Akiha Etu (2 for 3) set the tone for Weston Ranch’s big comeback with a solo homer, his sixth jack of the season, in the sixth.

Lathrop (0-14, 2-18 overall) stretched its lead back up to two, 3-1, in bottom of the frame when Pablo Chavez (2 for 3, two steals) legged out an RBI double.

Anthony Nunez knotted the game with a two-run homer in the seventh, and Kevin Howard later reached on a two-out, bases-loaded error that plated the final two runs.

“I’m proud of my kids regardless of the loss, and we are going to learn from this and continue to better ourselves,” Baltazar said.

Both coaches gave kudos to the outstanding pitching performances of the game’s starters, who are both underclassmen.

Sophomore Christian Vasquez went the distance for the (3-9, 7-14), striking out 10 in a four-hitter. Lathrop freshman Michael Pereznegron went 6 2/3 and struck out eight. He also plated a pair of runs and stole two bases.

“Their pitcher did a great job of mixing his pitches, and in the first half of the game we were off balanced,” Smith said. “We stepped up our approach at the plate and eventually got some hits when we needed to.”

Baltazar will next coach against his alma mater, Sierra, next Monday, while Weston Ranch kicks off its two-game set with Sonora on the road today.

— Jonamar Jacinto

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