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Alhambra Has Wright Stuff to Beat Montebello, Again

Alhambra High School’s dominance of Almont League baseball teams continued Tuesday as the Moors defeated Montebello, 3-0, in a league opener.

Despite some recent adversity, the Oilers took their field with a 4-1 nonleague record and looking forward to their meeting with the six-time defending league champions.

But they left it disappointed and frustrated after losing to Alhambra for the fifth consecutive time dating back to the 2009 season.

The Oilers were limited to four hits by Alhambra’s Frankie Wright, who left the game with the tying run at the plate and two outs in the seventh. Gary Acuna retired Montebello’s Alex Guerrero on a ground ball to second for the final out.

Montebello High School catcher Alex Guerrero looks to throw out a runner at first base during Tuesday’s Almont League opener. (EGP Photo by Mario Villegas)

“Frankie Wright sure pitched well, but I didn’t expect a shutout,” Montebello Coach Rafael Gutierrez said. “With all the guys we have back from last season, it’s hard to believe how poor we looked at the plate.”

Wright, a senior who mostly played the infield the past two seasons, has emerged as Alhambra’s No. 1 starter. He improved to 2-1 after throwing 109 pitches, striking out four and walking four. He also stroked two hits.

“I think he know this is his time,” Alhambra Coach Steve Gewecke said. “He waited patiently for two years until winning the No. 1 job in the fall.”

Alhambra improved to 3-2 overall with the victory.

“It’s a big game because it’s Montebello and they’re always good, but it’s just one game and now we have to go back to work,” Gewecke said. “I’m sure Bell Gardens will be ready for us on Friday.”

Alhambra’s Juan Carlos squeezed in a run in the third inning that was set up on singles by Ryan Pinon and Wright, and a sacrifice by Blake Kuehnle.

Kuehnle, the ninth batter in the order, delivered a two-run single in the sixth to drive in Andrew Figueroa, who was hit by a pitch, and Pinon, who doubled.

Jose Matos (2-1), who entered the game having thrown 12 2/3 scoreless innings, suffered the loss.

“His fastball wasn’t what it’s been,” Gutierrez said. “He got a couple of pitches up and he got hurt. He had a real live fastball Saturday at Arcadia, but he didn’t have it today.”

Gutierrez wants to see the Oilers be more aggressive at the plate.

“We take too many pitches and we have to be more aggressive, especially early in the count,” he said. “Alhambra did a good job swinging the bat today. They don’t sit back and look at fastballs. We do too much of that.”

Guerrero had two hits for Montebello and lined out hard to second with two runners on base to end a pivotal fifth inning. The senior catcher is batting .438.