PLACENTIA — Bishop Amat High School has had some signature wins in recent years.
Tuesday Bishop Amat got another one.
Wallace Gonzalez went 4 for 4 and had six RBIs and David Berg was solid on the mound in relief to lead Bishop Amat to an 11-3 victory over St. Francis of Mountain View, ranked No. 1 nationally by Baseball America, in the quarterfinals of the National Classic at El Dorado High School.
Bishop Amat improved to 18-2 and will face either Bingham of South Jordan, Utah or El Capitan of Lakeside in today’s semifinals at 4:30 p.m. at Cal State Fullerton. St. Francis, which is also ranked No. 2 nationally by MaxPreps.com, slipped to 20-2.
“Bishop Amat is used to big games,” Bishop Amat coach Andy Nieto said. “That’s why kids come to Bishop Amat. We’re not into moral victories. Like I said last year when we lost. We got outplayed and Torrance beat us.
“We’re into hanging banners and winning championships. Just look into the history books. In the over 50 years of Bishop Amat, there’s a lot of big wins. This is just another one.”
What separated this one from some of the others in recent years, was in the amount of ease Bishop Amat took apart the top-ranked team in the country.
And St. Francis helped Bishop Amat’s cause, committing three errors, all which keyed Bishop Amat rallies.
The first, a dropped throw on a pickoff attempt, allowed Jay Anderson to take third. He then scored for a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Dominique Davis.
Bishop Amat then used two St. Francis’ miscues to go up 6-0 in the third, which was highlighted by a an RBI double by Davis and a two-run single by Gonzalez.
Wallace wasn’t done. He followed with a two-run single to push the advantage to 8-2 in the fifth before hitting a two-run home run in the seventh for an 11-3 lead.
“I just knew I had to stay relaxed at the plate,” Gonzalez said. “I knew our pitchers (starter Daniel Zamora and Berg) were going to do a great job. It didn’t change my approach too much.
“We weren’t worried about the rankings. (Bishop Amat) was ranked No. 2 (nationally) last year, and lost. Rankings mean nothing. It’s a game of baseball, and anything can happen.”
Berg was also impressive after relieving Zamora in the third. He gave up just one run and struck out 10 in five innings to improve to 4-0.
He came to the rescue after St. Francis nearly got back in the game in the third, cutting Bishop Amat’s lead to 6-2 following a two-run home run by Alex Blandino. St. Francis then put runners on first and third before Berg struck out Jon Williams to end the threat.
Berg, then after giving up a run in the sixth, ended it with three strike outs in the seventh.
“This was a simple illustration what baseball is,” Nieto said. “The team that plays the best catch, and puts the ball in play, has the best chance to win.
“I was proud of our guys for taking on the challenge, and not cracking.”
Tuesday’s quarterfinal games
Bishop Amat 11, St. Francis 3
Bingham vs. El Capitan, 7 p.m., Cal State Fullerton
Bishop Amat vs. Bingham-El Capitan winner, 4:30 p.m., Cal State Fullerton