Crafty Cota pitches Yucaipa over Fontana A.B. Miller

Written by Bob on April 15th, 2010

Photos By BOB OTTO

YUCAIPA, CA – He doesn’t blow the ball by batters. He doesn’t over power batters with great breaking pitches. He doesn’t leave batters feeling in awe. But what Pedro Cota does very well is this: He wins.

And the Fontana A.B. Miller Rebels will a test to that after dropping a 7-2 decision to the senior right-hander and the Yucaipa Thunderbirds, Wednesday, in Citrus Belt League play.

“He’s a good, crafty pitcher,” said Rebels Head Coach, Frank Martinez. “He kept us off balance and threw strikes. We talked about his off speed pitches and change ups, and staying back and the hitting the ball the other way and not trying to pull the ball. (But) that Cota kid is a real good pitcher.”

Cota scattered five hits, struck out five, and didn’t allow an earned run as he improved to 6-1 on the season, and 16-1 in his two-year varsity career.

“Pedro threw his game,” said Thunderbirds Head Coach, Jeff Stout. “Pedro is effective in that he’s got three pitches. He’s got a pretty good fastball in the low to mid 80 miles per hour. He’s got a really decent curve ball, and he’s got a good straight change up.

“When he can throw all three pitches for strikes and mix his pitches, it creates havoc for a hitter. They can’t sit on one pitch.”

Cota held a Rebels team in check that had been playing good baseball of late. The Rebels (3-2 CBL, 6-8 overall) came into the game on a three-game CBL win streak and had won four of five.

Meanwhile, Yucaipa was like a ship off course. The Thunderbirds came into the game on a two-game slide. And they were determined to get their ship back on course.

“I’m calling our (situation) a 9-1-1 right now,” Stout said with a chuckle. “We have an emergency week to get back in the win column. This is one win, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Stout said that in Yucaipa’s previous two losses to Rialto, 4-2, and 8-2 to REV, the Thunderbirds were victims of errors, lack of hitting, and a pitching staff that walked too many and hit too many batters.

“We played a little better and more aggressively today, but we gave up two unearned runs on errors,” he said, “and we can’t continue to do that.”

Yucaipa jumped out 3-0 on a run in the first inning and two more in the third. After the Rebels scored two in the fourth to pull within a run at 3-2, Yucaipa broke the game open with a three-run fifth inning.

The Thunderbirds pounded out nine hits and were aided by three Miller errors. Wyatt Padgett (2 for 4) had a big game, driving in four runs. Brian Derryberry was 3 for 3 with an RBI, and Leonard Malfavon was 1 for 4 with an RBI.

The win improves Yucaipa to 3-2 CBL, 15-4 overall, and pulls them even with Miller in third place. REV sits a top the standings at 5-0, while Rialto is 4-1.

Although his team lost, Martinez sees the league shaping up in a battle for the top two through four spots – that opens the door for post-season playoffs.

“The league could come down to the last week,” Martinez said. “REV is undefeated, but Rialto has a scrappy bunch of players. They are real good and I think they’ll be there. REV and Yucaipa have the most talent in our league. But we want one of those top four spots and make it to the (CIF) playoffs.”

About the only Miller batter Cota couldn’t handle was pitcher and number five hitter, Carlos Fuentes. The right-hander pitched well enough to win, said Martinez, had he not been victimized by his teammates errors in crucial situations.

But at the plate, Fuentes had a great game – going 2 for 2 with two doubles and an RBI.

“Juan (Flores) and Carlos had good approaches, “ Martinez said, “but the rest seemed to be fooled (by Cota).”

And when Cota’s on his game, that’s to be expected, said Stout.

“They (batters) can’t sit on one pitch because they don’t know what’s coming,” he said. “You can be way out front on the change up, and now you’re sitting back waiting and looking for the curve ball and change up, then he busts you with a fastball. He has great command of the strike zone.”

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