Highlights and interviews following Cathedral shocking 3-1 victory over Bonita, knocking off the defending champion and Division 3 top seed.
By Steve Ramirez
LA VERNE – There’s a reason why CIF-Southern Section baseball playoff games are played on fields and not paper.
Bonita High School, which won the Division 3 title last season and was top seed this season, found out why Thursday.
Henry Martinez doubled home two runs in the top of the seventh inning and Willie Aguilar struck out Connor Renard in the bottom of the inning with they tying runs on second and third and visiting Cathedral shocked the No. 1 Bearcats, 3-1, in a first-round game at Las Flores Park.
Cathedral, which beat Xavier Prep, 4-0, in the wild-card round on Tuesday, improved to 15-16 and will face either Elsinore or Culver City in the second round on Tuesday. Bonita, which had tied the score at 1 on a bases-loaded walk to Austin McGilvra in the sixth, finished 26-4-1. The Bearcats, who are 58-6-1 during the past two seasons, also suffered their earliest playoff exit since losing to Northview in the second round in 2007. Bonita had gone to the finals, winning last season and losing in 2010, twice in the past three seasons.
“A lot of respect to Cathedral. They’re a tough team,” Bonita coach John Knott said. “But our guys played with a lot of heart. They didn’t quit, even after getting the first two out (in the seventh). We were a hit away from tying, and who knows. But I know Cathedral wasn’t going to back down either.
“It’s sad to end it this way, but we knew this was going to be a very tough game.”
CIF-SS Baseball Playoffs
Thursday’s First Round Results
Cathedral 3, Bonita 1
Mira Costa 15, Los Altos 1
Diamond Bar, 3, West Torrance 0
Serra 12, West Covina 7
El Monte 1, La Puente 0
Maranatha 7, Duarte 4
Sierra Vista 12, Mountain View 1
Cathedral, which finished third in a tough Del Rey League this season, showed its moxie in the seventh after Bonita rallied to tie it at 1 in the sixth.
The Phantoms quickly countered with a lead-off single by Ramon Bramasco. He advanced to second on a sacrifice before moving to third on a single by Brian Duenas. Matthew Moran bunted for a single to load the bases before Henry Martinez, who was pinch-hitting for designated hitter Adam Galvan lined an 0-2 pitch in into right-center field for a two-run double and a 3-1 lead.
“The thing about Parker (Merritt) is that he can tend to be a little wild within the (strike zone),” Knott said. “He throws so many strikes and doesn’t walk anybody. He’s around the plate, and they did a good job of hitting.
“I could have brought (Sam Stavang) in there, but I’m a firm believer you win or lose with your best players, especially in playoffs, so I wanted Parker to decide our fate. The guy comes off the bench, 0-2 and hits a breaking ball for a double. He did a good job of hitting.”
Bonita didn’t go away quitely.
The Bearcats, after Aguilar got the first two outs, nearly rallied to tie the score. Jacob Blunt reached on a fielding error and Justin Gomez followed with a single to right field. Both runners than took second and third on a fielder’s indifference. But Aguilar struck out Renard to end it.
“Our kids could have pouted and whined and felt sorry for themselves (after giving up two runs),” Knott said. “But even with two outs and nobody one, we get two to second and third, where a base hit ties it. I think we showed a lot of heart.
“That’s the identity of this group. We’re not the most physical. But we have a good, tough team and they didn’t quit.”
Bonita missed some scoring chances during the first three innings, including getting Justin Row, who had two doubles and single, thrown out at home in the first.
Cathedral took advantage of it, taking a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a single by Willie Aguilar and a RBI double by Junior Aguilar.
Bonita tied it at 1 in the sixth on singles by Blunt and Renard and walks to Tanner Diebold and Austin McGilvra.