Lions bounce back, preserve title hopes

Sierra Vista's American Legion baseball team could have returned to Wilson Stadium in a demoralized mood Sunday.

Only hours earlier, the Lions had allowed six runs in the ninth inning to lose to Bishop Gorman 11-9 in a crucial game that ended at about 12:20 a.m. Sunday.

"That's not our club," coach Levi Gill said. "They expect they're going to play as hard as they can, and if they do that, fortune will shine on them."

Sierra Vista did that Sunday, scoring four runs in the first inning in an 8-2 victory over Long Beach-Wilson (Calif.) in a West Regional elimination game.

Billy Santiwan's two-run single to right field highlighted the four-run inning, and the Lions (44-15) rode Dakota Roehl's complete-game pitching to victory.

"We just had to come back and scrap," said Santiwan, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and scored three runs.

Sierra Vista plays another elimination game against Waipahu (Hawaii) at 5 p.m. today, with the winner advancing to face Gorman in the championship game that immediately follows.

"I think we want (Gorman) bad, so we were coming out knowing we were going to win," Santiwan said. "We want Gorman for a championship. If we want to be the best team in the state, we've got to beat the best."

The Lions won the Legion state title last week, but they'll have to win twice today to clinch a spot in the Legion World Series, which opens Friday at Spokane, Wash.

Right-hander Roehl (9-1) scattered seven hits, walked two and struck out four. He threw 113 pitches, 76 for strikes.

"He's getting ahead of batters and not serving up too many balls down the middle of the plate," Gill said.

Matt Holman was 2-for-3 and Connor Klein drove in two runs for Sierra Vista.

■ Waipahu (Hawaii) 13, Bishop Gorman 2 -- Six Waipahu players had multiple hits in an eight-inning win over the Titans.

Myron Enos went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs, and pitched the distance for Waipahu.

Johnny Sewald, Michael Blasko and Billy Richardson had two hits each for Gorman.

■ Bishop Gorman 11, Sierra Vista 9 (late Saturday) -- For the second time in three days, Gorman catcher Erik Van Meetren was the hero after midnight.

Van Meetren hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to give the Titans a 10-9 lead. The victory sent Gorman into the championship round.

In an early-round game that ended at 1:20 a.m. Friday, Van Meetren hit an RBI single in the ninth to give Gorman an 11-10 victory win over Long Beach.

■ FAITH WINS TOURNAMENT -- At Le Sueur, Minn., Josh Murtha's tiebreaking single in the seventh scored Nick Bata and capped a four-run rally that gave Faith Lutheran's Legion team a 10-9 victory over Pratt (Kan.) in the championship of the Central Plains Tournament.

The Crusaders bounced back after losing to Pratt 11-2 in the first game of the final round.

"We had 18 guys on the roster, and all 18 served a role," Faith Lutheran coach Tony Girod said.

Murtha was the winning pitcher with three innings of scoreless relief. Brett Yee went 3-for-4, and Zach Skipper and Tyler Trageton supplied two hits each.

Crusaders catcher Michael Kinkenon was voted the tournament Most Valuable Player. He hit .589 with eight RBIs in six games. Murtha, Bata and Dylan Hanson were named to the all-tournament team.