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Pender stands ground in crucial play

Catcher tags potential game-tying run at plate for final out in bottom of seventh, helping NHBA Bronco All-Stars win.

July 09, 2010|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza, david.carrillo@latimes.com

PLACENTIA — Cole Pender does not wear the jersey number of a catcher. The 11-year-old is No. 99 and his dad, Denny Pender, can give you 99 reasons why he moved Cole from pitcher to catcher before the season.

Two of those reasons were on full display Friday for the Newport Harbor Baseball Assn. Bronco All-Star team. Cole has the arm to throw out runners and attitude to block the plate.

The runner from Los Alamitos heading home to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning was not making it home safely. Cole stood his ground after Matthew McDonald fired a perfect throw from center field.

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Cole tagged the runner for the third out in a bang-bang play, allowing Newport Harbor to hold on for a 6-5 win. Cole and his teammates get to continue playing in the Pony Bronco Southern California Central Region Sectional at Placentia Champions Sports Complex.

Denny, the manager, is unsure how many more of these types of games he can stomach in the tournament.

For the second straight game, Denny saw his team in a one-run nail bitter.

Newport Harbor was on the winning side this time around and Denny can thank his son.

"It's bread and water tonight if he doesn't block the plate," Denny said after Newport Harbor stayed alive in the elimination bracket, where it resumes play today at 3 p.m.

Denny said Newport Harbor plays the loser of the winner's bracket game today between Placentia and Saddleback. Newport Harbor found itself one loss away from being out of the tournament after a 3-2 setback to Placentia on Wednesday.

Charlie Wiggs pitched most of that game for Newport Harbor. Denny went to the left-hander again.

At first, Wiggs told Denny he couldn't throw for the second time in three days because of arm soreness. Newport Harbor needed his services in a tight game against Los Alamitos, which beat Newport Harbor, 13-0, a week and a half ago at a different tournament.

Wiggs' father walked over to the dugout and talked with him privately.

"He just told me to keep going. You got to finish the game for the team," Wiggs said his dad stressed.

"I'm really glad [I came in]."

So are his Newport Harbor teammates, who saw Wiggs record the save with 31/3 strong innings.

Wiggs entered with two out and runners on third and second base in the bottom of the fourth inning. He was also behind in the count, 2-0, without even throwing a pitch.

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