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BASEBALL: Cougars Improve to 5-0 in PAL Ocean

Garcia outduels Woodside's Azzopardi in 4-3 league victory; 11-5 Cougars win fourth straight.

The Score: Half Moon Bay 4, Woodside 3.

The Star: Half Moon Bay High ace Julian Garcia twirled a gem for the home team, picking up the win with a complete-game five-hitter in the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division game on Tuesday afternoon. The senior, a second-team All-PAL Bay selection last year, struck out 10 and limited Woodside (7-9, 5-2 PAL Ocean) to just two hits after the second inning. The only real blemish for Garcia and Half Moon Bay (11-5, 5-0) came during a rough first inning in which Garcia surrendered a two-run home run to Woodside pitcher Derek Azzopardi. “He’s a seasoned veteran, he’s a senior, he’s pitched in playoff games so he knows pressure,” Cougars coach Steve Terraszas said of Garica.

The Turning Point: With Azzopardi (2-2) and Garcia (4-1) locked in a pitchers’ duel after five innings and with the score knotted 2-2, both teams were searching for their fourth hit of the game. Garcia retired Woodside in order in the top of the frame, allowing his offense to take over. Third baseman Peter Bacich, who led the inning off with a walk, scored the go-ahead run on a catching error on a fielder’s choice that would have beaten Bacich to the plate. Derek Fama also scored in the inning on a Juan Ayon single, providing needed insurance as Woodside would mount a comeback in the seventh. After giving up a pair of doubles, a walk and a run, Garcia then retired three straight hitters to seal the win. The HMB starter stranded the tying run on third by striking out Bradley Degnan. “My heart’s still racing. I told the guys afterwards that my hair can’t get any whiter,” said Terraszas.

The Quote: “Woodside is a very formidable team. I was ready for this team. This was the team I needed to beat for us to go up in league.” -- Half Moon Bay pitcher Julian Garcia, on the importance of beating surging Woodside to keep his team unbeaten in the PAL Ocean.

What’s Next? The two teams meet again Thursday in another PAL Ocean contest. First pitch at Woodside is at 4 p.m.

The Bottom Line: A season after being demoted from the PAL Bay to the Ocean in part due to anemic hitting, Half Moon Bay, No. 7 in , could very well find itself atop the Ocean this season. Behind the power arm and bat of Garcia and the strong hitting of sophomore Peter Bacich (batting .559 on the season entering Tuesday), the Cougars have put together a 5-0 start in the Ocean, looking to put last season’s 3-11 Bay record behind them.

Notes: Woodside’s Azzopardi matched Garcia in throwing a complete game on Tuesday. … Half Moon Bay’s win was its fourth straight and it snapped Woodside’s four-game streak. … Both Woodside and HMB have already exceeded their win totals from last season. In 2010, Woodside had five victories and HMB seven. … The Cougars swept the season series last year, with Garica pitching six innings with seven whiffs to earn a no-decision in a 7-6 walk-off win on Apr. 21, 2010. Half Moon Bay also won 5-2 two days later. … Both teams were demoted to the PAL Ocean after finishing at the bottom of the PAL Bay standings last year.

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Half Moon Bay 4, Woodside 3

W 200 000 1 – 3 5 2

H 200 002 x – 4 4 0

WP: Garcia (4-1). LP: Azzopardi (2-2).

HR: Azzopardi (W). 3B: Fama (HMB). 2B: Hoffer, Clifford (W); Berghammer (HMB). 2 RBI: Azzopardi (W).

Records: Woodside 7-9, 5-2 PAL Ocean. Half Moon Bay 11-5, 5-0 PAL Ocean.

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