Baseball: Alhambra’s title bid falls short.

By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer
twitter.com/DailyNewsSports

LOS ANGELES — It had been 85 years since Alhambra High School
played for a CIF-Southern Section baseball championship.

It’s going to be a little longer before the Moors bring home the top
prize.

Senior Justin Garza pitched a three-hitter and top seed Bonita took
advantage of four Alhambra errors to score its first CIF-SS title
since 1951 with a 5-1 victory over the Moors Friday in the Division 3
championship game at Dodger Stadium.

The Bearcats, also getting two hits and a RBI from Thomas Castro,
finished 32-2 to win the title after losing in the championship game
against Ocean View in 2010.

Alhambra, which got a steady four innings from Marco Briones,
finished 24-4. The Moors were seeking the school’s first CIF-SS title
and playing in a section championship game for the first time since
1927.

“Twenty four wins is a school record,” Alhambra coach Steve Gewecke
said. “We have a lot to be proud of.

“We’re going to walk out of here with our heads held high.There’s no
doubt about it. It stings today. But we still had a great season.”

But it good have been better, and the Moors might likely dwell on a
third inning that proved to be decisive for the Bearcats, who after
the teams traded scoring runs in the first and second innings, took a
5-1 lead, scoring four runs on five hits and two errors.

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Tanner Diebold started the rally, leading off with a single. He was
sacrificed to second before advancing to third on a single by Justin
Row.

Then it got interesting.

Garza, who popped out in the first on a botched sacrifice bunt
attempt, executed a squeeze play bunt to score Diebold for a 2-1
advantage. Briones, who gave up seven hits, fielded the bunt before
throwing to first baseman Juan Morales, who first bobbled it, then
had it jarred lose by Garza, allowing Row to score to push it to 3-1.

“First of all, I thought we recorded the out before the ball trickled
away,” Gewecke said. “Then I thought (Garza) was inside the line,
which means he’s out.

“The umpires thought it was different, and we’ll live with that. “
Castro and Tyler Heslop followed with singles to score Garza for a
4-1 advantage. Nolan Henley reached on a fielding error to make it
5-1.

“I felt I had my best stuff,” Briones said. “I just missed a couple
spots today.

“(The squeeze) was well executed. There was nothing we could do, it
was a good bunt. It was a dropped ball. The guy ran into our first
baseman.”

Garza, who finished with seven strike outs, took care of the rest. He
retired 16 of the final 17 batters, including striking out the final
two batters, to improve to 24-1 over the past two seasons and give
Bonita its second CIF-SS crown.

“Garza’s a special pitcher,” Gewecke said. “There’s no doubt about
that.”

Bonita took a 1-0 lead in the first on a fielding error, a passed
ball and RBI single by Castro. Alhambra, which rallied back from a
four-run deficit to beat No. 2 seed Beckman, 6-5, in the semifinals
on Tuesday, tied it at 1 in the second. Morales singled, stole second
and scored on a RBI single by Briones.
But there would be no second rally as Garza closed the game with a
flourish.

“We just didn’t have enough today,” Gewecke said. “That’s the bottom
line. We lost to a good team.

“You can’t give Garza five. He’s going to make it standup. I thought
we hit the ball hard. They made some great plays. They deserved to
win.”

steve.ramirez@sgvn.com

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