Baseball: Bishop Amat wins eighth championship, beats Palm Desert 7-0 for Division 4 crown

Bishop Amat championship photo gallery.

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
When Bishop Amat High School’s baseball team reaches CIF-Southern Section championship games, it almost always closes the deal, even when that includes taking down the defending champion and top seed and avenging a season-opening loss with a season-ending masterpiece.
Bishop Amat won its eighth divisional title in nine finals appearances, knocking off top-seed Palm Desert 7-0 in the Division 4 championship at Dodger Stadium on Friday, giving the Lancers their fifth championship since 2001, and first since 2008. (To continue, click thread)

L.A. Times’ Eric Sondheimer reflects on Amat’s big win: It’s astounding that people have paid me for some 35 years to watch and report on high school sports. It’s more privilege than job because there’s nothing like chronicling the stories and accomplishments of teenage athletes in Southern California, where future college and professional icons are raised and tutored………It was Bishop Amat’s eighth section title and ended any debate about who’s the best team in Southern California for 2011.

Video highlights and interviews with the Inland Insider…

After knocking off Torrance in the semifinals after losing to the Tartars in the quarterfinals the year before, the Lancers knocked off the defending champion Aztecs, a team that defeated them soundly in the season opener, 5-1.

“With no disrespect to our opponent, we felt we owed them and owed ourselves a well-played game,” Amat coach Andy Nieto said.

For Nieto, it was his third title to go with the back-to-back titles Amat won in 2007 and ’08.

“When you go to Bishop Amat you have a responsibility and obligation to not only represent yourself and school, but you play for championships,” Nieto said. “You don’t go there trying to go to the playoffs, the playoffs are just a stepping stone to winning a
championship and more importantly, hanging a banner.”

Bishop Amat junior Rio Ruiz hit a two-run home run, senior Jay Anderson produced a two out, two-run triple and junior pitcher Daniel Zamora delivered the goods, throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings while limiting one of the best hitting teams in the division to just four hits before giving way to David Berg to close it with the final out.

“It’s like a dream come true,” said Zamora, who finishes 9-1. “I’m out of words right now, it was probably the best performance I ever had, and to do it at Dodger Stadium and in a CIF championship game, I really can’t believe what just happened.”

It was an emotional game from the outset. Earlier in the day, word spread that Austin Lacy, a former Bishop Amat linebacker who transferred to Pasadena High School his senior year, died in a Maryland hospital where he was being treated for an unknown illness.

After Dominique Davis’ one-out walk in the third inning, Ruiz smashed a two-run homer to the seats in right and pointed to the sky as he rounded the bases to give Amat a 2-0 lead.

“That whole time I remembered Austin Lacy, we were family when he was at our school,” Ruiz said. “It was a great feeling for us to win it for him, and hitting that home run for him. Hopefully God is taking care of him right now.”

When asked about Ruiz’s long homer, Nieto shook his head, saying he called a hit and run.

“That ball is the same type of missile that blew up (Osama) Bin Laden’s house,” Nieto joked.

With Anderson on third and Wallace Gonzalez on first with one out in the fourth, Brandon Castaneda’s sacrifice squeeze scored Anderson, then Adam Alcantara’s double scored Gonzalez to extend the Lancers’ lead to 4-0.

With two on and two out in the fifth, Anderson tripled down the line in right to drive in two more, then Gonzalez’s dribbler back to the pitcher was bobbled and thrown late to first for an error, allowing Anderson to score to go up 7-0.

“I thought that triple really nailed it, really put them in a big hole,” said Anderson, who gave up football his senior year to concentrate on baseball. “With our pitching, I knew that would be enough. This game right here, it made all the blood, sweat and tears
worth it.”

Amat dodged a bullet in the first inning.

After Ryan Garvey’s two-out double, John Schuknecht’s grounder to Brandon Castaneda at second was bobbled, and his throw to Ryan Serrato at first late. With Garvey rounding third and breaking for home, Serrato acted quickly, firing home to get Garvey at the plate.

The Lancers got out of more trouble in the second.

The Aztecs’ Kaz Halcovich and David Schuknecht led off with back-to-back singles with Brooks Kriske moving them over to second and third respectively on a ground out. Cody Kabeary was intentionally walked to load the bases, but Joe Tellier’s bouncer back to Zamora ended the inning on a 1-2-3 double play.

“That was the biggest play of the game,” Zamora said. “If they get going and score a few runs, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Amat got another big double play to get out of the third and from that point on, Zamora was flawless. He didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way.

“Z pitched his tail off,” Ruiz said. “We lost our first two games of the year and thought it would be a long season. To pull it together and win at Dodger Stadium? I’m speechless, I can’t put my feelings into words.”

Bishop Amat, who entered ranked No. 7 in ESPN Rise’s national rankings, finishes the season 29-4 with Palm Desert ending 28-5.

Kriskie, the Aztecs’ starting pitcher, lasted just four innings and finished 11-2.

“It’s truly a tribute to our players and our program on trying to play a flawless game,” Nieto said. “And I want to say one final thing: Just because you beat the other team, you don’t have to run around the bases and slide at home plate. You always want to maintain
that respect for the game, and the respect for the other team.”

That was in reference to South Hills’ semifinal softball victory at Bishop Amat last week, in which Huskies coach Scott Fisch celebrated by trotting the bases and sliding into home afterward.”
626-962-8811, ext. 2161

Box Score:

CIF-SS Division 4 championship
Bishop Amat 002-230-0 — 7 — 6 –1
Palm Desert 000-000-0 — 0 — 4 – 2
Daniel Zamora, David Berg (7) and Sebi Zavala; Brooks Kriske, Jonathan Tellier (5) and David Schuknecht. HR – Rio Ruiz (BA); 3B: Jay Anderson
(BA); 2B: Ryan Garvey (PD), Adam Alcantara (BA). WP: Zamora (9-1); LP:
Kriske (11-2).
Records: Bishop Amat 29-4; Palm Desert 28-5.

Amat on ESPNLA….da da da … da da da

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  • Lance Bishop

    Let’s put all local rivalries/feelings aside today and let’s get ALL of the “SGV” to come out and support the Lancers today!!! Bring it home to the SGV Lancers!! Go Lancers, Go Big Blue, Go SGV!!!

  • Lancerville

    Lance Bishop

    I second that!!

  • Joe Amat

    Former multi-sport Lancer Austin Lacey has passed away after year long health struggles. God bless he and his family. Keep him in your prayers today and always remember the next game/day could always be your last. Compete and live that way.

  • 12th man

    Does anyone know who pitched for Amat the 1st time theese 2 teams met earlier in the season?

  • Lance Bishop

    I don’t have the words…My thoughts, prayers and heart goes out to the Lacey Family. Very sad news.

  • AMAT 73

    My God that is very sad news on this fine young man and fellow Lancer. Our prayers go out to the Lacey Family and may God bless them .

  • Aaron

    That stinks bad. My condolences go out to the Lavey family.

  • 1st time

    In the first game Daniel Zamora started and went 3 2/3 innings giving up 3 runs. David Berg, Nick Montoya, and Joseph Pantaleo combined to throw 3 1/3 shutout innings.

  • Damien Dad

    First let me start by saying just how sorry we all are to hear the news about Austin Lacy. May God bless him and his family. Our prayers go out to him and all of our Lancer brother’s and sister’s. No better way to honor him than to win today, good luck to you. Bring it home to the SGV.

  • Colt74

    Our prayers go out to the Lacey Family.

    To the men of Blue and Gold…GET R’ Done!

  • sgv scouting

    Great news Amat fans. You can watch the game live on Coverage with Crespi alum Chris McGee and Rex Hudler.

  • AMAT 73

    Great win by the Men in Blue today . Zamora was untouchable on the hill today . And Berg came in and closed it out which was a classy move by Nieto. Great win and thank you to all of you for a great season and bringing home the CIF Championship to the SGV. Hang that banner with pride because you Lancers deserve it .

  • player

    any word on the So Hills girls softball score?

  • Bonita Fan

    Congrats to Bishop Amat for winning CIF. Way to make SGV proud. You have earned the ring and #1 SGV ranking.

  • 12th man

    WOW!!!A big time hit by A big time player~ Rio Ruiz crushed a pitch deep into right field just inside the foul pole for a two run homer that changed everything..Up until that point Palm Desert had momentum on there could aslmost feel that they were on the verge of scoring by putting runners on base in scoring position in the 1st & 2nd inning..The life got sucked rite out of them when Rio went yard~ Awesome display by the infield turning 3 double plays one of them with bases loaded it was a total team effort..The big Z got it done on the hill with a dominating performance & it was all topped off by a classy move from Head Coach Andy Nieto who realized the situation & put in the senior David Berg with two outs to close the game..There shouldn’t be any controversy on whos #1 in the SGV NOW!!!

  • tcbruin

    Congratulations to the Lancers. You proved it on the field againast a good team.

  • Aaron

    Congratulations to Bishop Amat Memorial High School.

  • Lancer12

    It was a great season for Amat with the championship being the perfect ending. Expect another strong team next year with Ruiz, Alcantara, and Big Z leading a very talented group of soon to be juniors!

  • Dan

    Congratulations Bishop Amat on a very fine season and CIF title, My thoughts and prayers to the Lacy family, very sad about Austin, he seemed like a fine young man and a fine linebacker for the Lancers.

  • Colt74

    Not since…….2011 !!!!!!!!!

    Outstanding Accomplishment for the men of Blue and Gold!!

    The BEST in Southern California !
    Wow…that has a nice RING to it..doesn’t it!

  • Joe Amat


    Nicely played. Thanks. Congrats to the rest of the Lancer Family

  • lancelot brown

    congrats to Amat .29-4 with a tough schedule and a C.I.F championship avenging 3 early season losses this season.look for Amat to be number 1 in the valley and possible southern california.dont see many post since Amat won,only win they lose and someone has something negative to say the comments come rolling in.

  • Congrats Amat
    with the schedule you played and to top it off with the ring. SGV #1 team.
    Ruiz as player of the year.
    They got the job done !

  • forreal

    1995 good luck against those football powers Garrrrrrfield, and Caaaaathedral, and Laaaaaaa Mirada real powerhouses

  • Blog Police

    Wow, now that is truly AMAZING!?!?!?!?

  • lance bishop

    @notsince1995,palm desert is not D1 but is as good as any D1 school.Rio hit the homer against a future D1 pitcher .Amat beat mission viejo division 2 champ,esperanza division 1 finalist,chatworth city division 1 finalist and a whole bunch of highly rated teams.3 of there losses they avenged bigtime so those losses dont mean a thing.amat number 1 in valley and maybe even so cal

  • just sayin’

    and then, of course, there is this

  • As a Bishop Amat alumnus and past varsity baseball player I am disgusted with the politics that has become the norm of the baseball program at Bishop Amat. Coach Nieto is self-serving and egotistical. He has benefited from the history, reputation and tradition of Bishop Amat that continues to draw the best talent in the San Gabriel Valley. Players should be judged by their talent and character alone and not by the depth of the parents/boosters pockets and placement of their lips.
    I was appalled by the move to replace Zamora in the Championship game after 6 2/3rd innings in order to bring in a senior pitcher for one out. I understand and appreciate the gesture that allowed the senior to play in Dodger Stadium but I cant help to think how that made Zamora feel. After pitching a superb 6 2/3rd innings of a CIF Championship game I know that I would want to be on the mound for the final out. Apparently, Nieto was more concerned with trying to appease a parent rather than his player that enabled him to win a championship.