Calexico High School junior Aaron Plazola scores a run for the Bulldogs against Central Union High at Petco Park in San Diego during an Imperial Valley League game on Saturday, May 8. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO
SAN DIEGO — Getting the opportunity to play in a Major League Baseball stadium is nerve-wracking enough but having to wait around longer than usual prior to the game makes the nerves build even more.
That’s what happened to the Calexico High School baseball team as it prepared to take on Central Union High at Petco Park in San Diego on Saturday, May 8. The Imperial Valley League game was part of a prep baseball showcase at the stadium that featured a day of high school baseball.
The game between the Bulldogs and Spartans was delayed from its original 4 p.m. start due to the prior game going into extra innings. That delay caused the nerves and excitement to build among the Calexico players and didn’t lead to their best game of the season as the Bulldogs fell to Central, 8-4.
Calexico (3-8 overall, 2-6 in IVL action) opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first inning but gave up three in the bottom of the first. The Bulldogs fought back to tie the score in the top of the second inning, 3-3, but starting pitcher Simbad Apodaca struggled with his command and ended up taking the loss.
“With the game before us going to extra innings, it cut into our warmup time so we went from sitting around to being kind of rushed getting ready,” said Ricky Guzman, Calexico’s head coach who was coaching in his fourth prep showcase game at Petco Park. “I was hoping the nerves would be gone after the first pitch, but it looked like we were nervous the entire game.”
Calexico got RBIs from juniors Aaron Plazola and Jose Sanchez but weren’t able to muster enough offense late in the game to overtake the Spartans.
Senior catcher Ruben Sandoval said the highlight of his day was when he put on his equipment and squatted behind home plate in the first inning.
“Catching in Petco Park felt so nice,” said the 18-year-old Sandoval. “The dirt was perfect, the grass was so fine. It was just an amazing experience.”
Sandoval went 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk, but even though he couldn’t get his bat going, he’ll remember the experience forever.
“I was getting pumped up watching that game before ours. I was ready to go,” Sandoval said. “When we got on the field, other than the final score, I thought we played a good game.”
Bulldogs Drop Doubleheader to Vikings
Earlier in the week, Calexico faced Holtville in an IVL doubleheader with the first game being a 2-0 loss to the Vikings on Monday, May 3, at Belcher Field in Calexico and the second being an 11-4 defeat in Holtville on Wednesday, May 5.
Apodaca pitched on May 3 and allowed just five hits to the Vikings but wasn’t able to get any run support. Holtville pitcher Raul Sierra threw a complete-game one-hitter en route to the victory.
Senior Arturo Lazos had two hits and an RBI for the Vikings and sophomore Nick Pacheco drove in the other run for Holtville.
On May 5, Holtville led 3-1 and blew the game open with a seven-run fourth inning. Calexico scored three in the top of the fifth to make it 10-4 but couldn’t get anything going in the final two innings.
Vikings’ junior Rafa Espinoza pitched a complete game and got the win, allowing four runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and three walks.