RBV's Trevor Handa (shown in a game last season) turned in a clutch pitching performance and got a key hit for the Longhorns on Thursday. John Koster
VISTA Sheldon Watkins wasn’t going top let Jordan Pearce beat him.
Three times, El Camino High’s top hitter came to the plate with runners in scoring position and first base open. Three times the Rancho Buena Vista baseball coach ordered Pearce walked intentionally.
Three times the strategy worked as RBV beat El Camino 5-2 on Thursday in an Avocado West League game.
“Pearce is one of the best hitters in the county, so walking him with a base open was the smart move,” Watkins said of a player who is hitting .484 in 31 at-bats.
“I knew before the game we’d walk him if the situation was right, but I didn’t expect the perfect situation to come up three times.”
El Camino (8-4, 1-1) had a runner on second and one out in the second inning when Watkins ordered Pearce walked.
Robert Johnson, who’s hitting .444, lined into a double play to end the inning.
The Wildcats, who saw their five-game winning streak snapped, had runners on second and third with two outs in the fourth when Pearce again drew the intentional pass.
Johnson grounded hard to second base.
In the sixth, El Camino had a runner on second with two outs. Pearce was again walked. Johnson’s opposite-field fly ball was run down by left fielder Rod Hill.
Senior Trevor Handa, who issued all three intentional passes, was the winning pitcher for RBV (5-7, 1-1), going six-plus innings, allowing five hits and one earned run as the Longhorns committed five errors behind him.
“I didn’t have a problem walking Pearce,” Handa said. “I understood the situations.
“We were trying to set up force plays every time.
“I couldn’t let the situations, putting an extra runner on base, get to my head.
“That’s when you run into trouble.
“I tried to keep the ball down, jam the next guy and get an out.
“I’m the one who got into the jam in the first place, so I had to deal with it.”
Trailing 2-0, RBV rallied for three runs in the third, one scoring on Mike Benson’s RBI single and two coming in on Handa’s bad-hop single.
The Longhorns got two more in the sixth with Gabe Earich and Kevin Collard driving in runs.
Earich, who was playing center field, came in to pitch after El Camino went single-single to open the seventh.
He got a line out to third and two soft fly balls to center to end the game.
El Camino won the first of the three-game league series last Saturday 3-0 in Petco Park as RBV got just one hit.
The teams wrap up the series Saturday at El Camino with a 10:30 a.m. game.
RBV started league play 0-9 last season and was swept in the league-opening series by El Camino.
“It has been a long 10 days,” said Watkins, whose team had lost three in a row.
“Pearce isn’t the only guy in that El Camino lineup who can hurt you, but he was the guy today that we weren’t going to let get the big hit if we could help it.
“We didn’t want to go 0-2 to start the league, so we turned to a senior and Trevor came up big.”