By Fred J. Robledo
This could be a sign of things to come.
Bishop Amat ended its long drought in Orange County’s prestigious Hard 9 National Classic, avenging one of its only two losses with an easy 12-1 victory over Esperanza in the championship Thursday night at Cal State Fullerton.
Bishop Amat’s Adam Alcantara hit a towering two-run home run in the fourth and the Lancers used their steady duo of pitchers to get the job done again, ace lefty Daniel Zamora starting and striking out five in three innings before giving way to junior Rio Ruiz, who made quite an impression in only his third career appearance.
All Ruiz did was strike out the side in the fourth with fastballs clocked at 92 MPH, and pitch four shutout innings, allowing one hit with seven strikeouts.
Jay Anderson had a triple, double and three RBIs, Ryan Serrato collected three hits, Wallace Gonzalez was named the tournament MVP and the Lancers broke it open with five runs in the fifth inning to cruise to the championship. (To continue click thread)
Esperanza 010-000-0 — 1-3-4
Bishop Amat 300-232-X — 12-12-2
Daniel Zamora, (4) Rio Ruiz and Bernardo Zavala; Blake Mitchell, (3) Brett Pinkham (4), Matt Ripley (5), Chris Conners (6) and Brandon Morones. HR– Adam Alcantara, 3B – Jay Anderson
Records: Bishop Amat 20-2; Esperanza 14-8
More on the Lancers: The L.A. Times’ Eric Sondheimer has video of Rio Ruiz pitching, and wrote glowingly about his 92 MPH fastball, writing, “Bishop Amat has been reluctant to use him on the mound, fearing its defense would be weakened without him at third base or his control might not be good. But if he pitches like he did, there could be a 10-year-old playing third base because all he’ll be doing is watching strikeouts.
It was Amat’s third National Classic tournament title, but first since winning back-to-back titles in 2001 and ’02.
Amat, ranked No. 1 in Division 4, would love to follow up how the
previous two did.
When Amat won two straight National Classic titles earlier this decade, the Lancers followed with back-to-back divisional and mythical national titles.
Although Amat came in to the tournament without a national ranking, they surely have the attention of pollsters with a winning streak that extended to 20, and a win over the last team to defeat them, which was Esperanza (14-8), which won 7-5 back on March 5.
Amat’s road to the title game was impressive.
After opening with a 1-0 win over Cypress, the top-ranked team in
Division 2, the Lancers turned heads nationally with an 11-3 blowout over St
Francis of Mountain View, ranked No. 1 nationally by Baseball America.
The Lancers continued with their solid pitching in the semifinals,
knocking off back-to-back San Diego section champion El Capitan of Lakeside, 2-1, to earn the rematch against Esperanza.
“We got a brief taste of it last year when we got to No. 2 (in the
national polls),” Nieto said. “It’s a tough thing to grasp, especially for kids. It showed with St. Francis, it was nice to play someone who had a bigger bullseye than us.
“It’s crazy to know who votes and what the formula is (for being nationally ranked) but when you play in these nationally recognized tournaments, that’s one of the only ways to get on the map, and once you get on the map, you have to stay on the map.”
Esperanza helpled stake Amat to a 3-0 lead in the first.
AFter Brandon Castaneda reached on a one-out error that was booted by
Aztecs second baseman Mitch Mosman, Ruiz singled up the middle to put runners on the corners.
Bernardo Zavala steered a single to right, scoring Castaneda for a 1-0 lead. The Aztecs’ defensive struggles continued, Ryan Serrato hitting a routine grounder that got past Mosman again for an error, allowing Ruiz to score. Jay Anderson gave them a 3-0 lead when his ground out to first scored Zavala.
Mosman helped get one back, driving home Ryan Aguilar with a two-out
single to right in the second inning, trimming the Lancers’ lead to 3-1.
Alcantara’s two-run homer in the fourth made it 5-1 and Anderson tripled home two more runs in the fifth to stretch it to 7-1.