Poise in tough situations isn’t a trait limited to seniors on the Belen baseball team this season.
On Tuesday night, it was sophomore pitcher Pablo Arevalo who was clutch for seven innings including a strong recovery in the final frame to help the Wolverines hang on for a 2-1 win against Mater Academy at Westland Gardens Park.
Arevalo allowed three hits over six shutout innings until giving up a solo blast in the seventh inning to Mater center fielder Danny Reyes.
Arevalo calmly shook off the mistake striking out his pitching counterpart Mike Mediavilla, a University of Miami signee, looking on the next at-bat. Arevalo then snared a grounder back to the mound off the bat of Mater first baseman Christian Cabrera and threw him out to end the game.
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"I have a great defense behind me and my catcher, David Guevara, called a great game behind the plate," Arevalo said. "My changeup was working well and again our defense helped a lot."
The victory moved Belen (8-3, 5-0) into sole possession of first place in District 16-6A ahead of the host Lions (6-2, 5-1), who won the district last season.
Belen suffered two blowout losses (to Columbus and Westminster Christian) in its first three games of the season. The Wolverines have since won seven of eight games and five in a row.
"We’re on a real good roll and we love the way we’re playing right now," Belen coach Jerry Albert said. "We have a great group of guys. The kids are very receptive to what they’re being taught by our coaches."
Arevalo finished with five strikeouts and at one point retired eight consecutive batters.
Another sophomore, center fielder Christian Del Castillo roped a single to right field to drive in Alex Cabrera for the game’s first run in the top of the first. The ball was mishandled in the outfield and rolled all the way near the right field fence allowing Del Castillo to come around to score and give Belen a 2-0 lead.
Albert credited the chemistry between his veteran players and underclassmen for the team’s success.
"We have a nice mix of seniors and young players," Albert said. "The seniors have embraced the young kids and it’s made for a great environment."
Mater’s only other solid scoring threat came in the bottom of the sixth inning when Lazaro Rodriguez led off the inning with a single. But Alex Rodriguez grounded into a double play on the next at-bat and Arevalo struck out Michael Escarra to end the inning.
"We’re brothers on this team and we believe we can get through anything," Arevalo said. "Mater is a magnificent team. This win feels good, but we’re not satisfied."
WP: Pablo Arevalo (4-0). LP: Mike Mediavilla.