earn an 8-0 nonleague victory against visiting L.A. Marshall on
"I had to call timeout a couple of times in the first inning," said
Cruz, who played third base last season. "The dirt got in my eyes and I
had a hard time seeing the pitches. Then the runners got on base and I
felt like I had a good release point to throw them out."
Cruz, who hasn't caught regularly since Little League competition,
provided Hoover (4-1) with some offensive pop. He finished with two hits,
scored two runs and drove in a pair of runs to send the Tornadoes to
their fourth consecutive victory.
Cruz had a wind-blown single in the first inning to give the Tornadoes
a 2-0 lead. The early run support aided Hoover starting pitcher Max Hibbs
(2-0) and deflated Marshall (1-6).
Hibbs, a junior right-hander, struck out nine and scattered three hits
in a complete-game effort.
"That was my best performance," said Hibbs, a first-team all-Pacific
League selection last season. "That was a sacred wind for me because it
saved me from them getting hits and scoring runs. I could have lost the
"Some dirt got in their eyes and Tito has a small target. He helped me
picking off those runners."
Cruz caught Marshall's runners napping. He threw out runners in the
first, fifth and sixth innings after noticeably shortening their leads.
Perhaps the wind played a factor and slowed Marshall's base-running
"The wind factor went both ways," Cruz said. "I just didn't want them
getting big leads."
Hoover extended its' lead to 7-0 when Cruz hit a run-scoring triple to
key a four-run fourth inning.
Teammate Ciro Avila finished with a team-high three hits and three
runs batted in. Ciro produced run-scoring hits in the third and fourth
Hibbs used the offensive support to earn his first shutout, matching
last season's total. He finished 6-3 with a 1.23 earned-run average in
"Getting an early lead helps," said Hibbs, who walked three. "I can't
pay any attention to it because then I'll start throwing pitches down the
2B-H: Estrella, Crowder.