By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
ALHAMBRA – After falling behind visiting Beckman by four runs early in Tuesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 semifinal, Dodger Stadium had to seem like it was a million miles away for the Alhambra High School baseball team.
Now, however, it’s the very first thing on the Moors’ radar.
Alhambra used a five-run rally in the fourth inning to post a 6-4 victory against Beckman and will play in the school’s first championship game since 1927. The Moors (24-3) will take on Bonita (31-2) and ace pitcher Justin Garza at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Dodger Stadium.
“This is for all the Moors,” Alhambra coach Steve Gewecke said. “It feels outstanding. Just look at all the people here.”
True, Alhambra couldn’t have asked for better fan support and the baseball gods obliged after making it seem early on that luck wasn’t on the Moors’ side.
Beckman used three seeing-eye singles, an error and a double to take a 2-0 lead in the second inning. The Patriots added two run-scoring singles in the third to go up 4-0.
“The idea was don’t let them score anymore,” Gewecke said. “Because I knew if they got a couple more it was going to be tough, especially with (James) Kaprielian waiting in the ‘pen.”
Alhambra scored once in the
third, then unleashed a display of small ball to put the Orange County visitors in big trouble. The Moors got five singles and used an error and a sacrifice fly to take a 6-4 lead.
“We got out of the inning (in the third), got one (in the third) and then we had our big inning and held on,” Gewecke said.
Beckman never unveiled ace Kaprielian, who is one of the top pitchers in the state and plans to play next season at UCLA. Instead, the Patriots went with starter Connor Deneen and two relievers. Kaprielian had pitched a complete game in last Friday’s win over Los Altos.
Alhambra’s pitching situation was a bit more settled. San Jose State-bound starter Gary Acuna started the game, then gave way to sophomore Marco Briones with two outs in the top of the fourth. Briones got out of the inning, then put the clamps on Beckman by shutting down the Patriots over the final three innings.
Briones struck out the first hitter of the seventh, then made things a bit uneasy by giving up a single to Torin Goldstein. Briones got the next two hitters to fly out and the celebration was on.
“They never give up,” Gewecke said of his team. “They never quit. They play seven innings. They believe in themselves. We’ve won games in a variety of ways this year. It didn’t surprise me that they came back.”