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
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.”
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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:
Records: Bishop Amat 29-4; Palm Desert 28-5.
Amat on ESPNLA….da da da … da da da