By Jesus Coronel
The Notre Dame Titans withstood a late-inning comeback at Jurupa Valley High School on March 29.
The Titans lost junior first baseman Zakary Hensche in the first inning to a knee injury before falling behind 1-0 after an RBI Double by the Jurupa Jaguars in the bottom of the fifth inning.
But Notre Dame rallied in the sixth inning, taking the lead 4-1 and starting what would be a game of catch-up for the Jaguars.
Then Jurupa Valley rallied back, tying Notre Dame 4-4 in the seventh inning.
Both teams scored two runs in the eighth inning, keeping a 6-6 stalemate heading into the ninth.
A clutch ground rule double from Titans catcher Josh Castillo, a senior, propelled Notre Dame to a 7-6 lead. Castillo threw out a Jurupa runner on an attempted steal at second base before senior Devin Ramirez closed the game with a strikeout.
Jaguars Coach Chuck Armenta was satisfied with the performance the team made throughout the game.
“They battled back,” he said. “As a coach, that’s what you want. You don’t want them to give in to their emotions. So when you see them reach down and fight back, that’s an important character.”
Titans coach Benny Hernandez was impressed with the determination of the team to win the game after they lost Hensche, who he described as a key player, early on. Hernandez said some Titans played multiple roles and filled in at secondary positions.
“Everybody stepped up,” Hernandez said. “They all took charge. Everybody on the lineup came up. I used everybody in the dugout today. These guys don’t quit.”
His main goal for the season is for the players to have fun, after many students didn’t get to do so amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, many Titans players only played one game before campuses were shut down.
“These guys had a rough year,” he said. “I just want our seniors here to go out there and give it their best and go out there and enjoy the rest of the season.”