By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Baldwin Park pitcher Ben Fonseca pitched a complete game, allowing four hits with 11 strikeouts to lead the Braves to a 3-2 victory over Riverside La Sierra, sending the Braves to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 semifinals on Tuesday.
Baldwin Park (22-6), seeking its first CIF title since 1982, will face El Rancho, a 6-4 winner over El Segundo, in the semifinals at a site to be determined by a coin flip.
“We just want to keep going,” Baldwin Park coach Jake Barendregt said. “Ben was his stellar self again, he’s been like that all year for us.”
La Sierra’s Matt Hardy belted two home runs, his home run in the first giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Baldwin Park’s Jordan Palacio scored Dominic Hilo on a ground out in the second inning to tie the score, 1-1.
The Braves took a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
Palacio’s ground out scored Hilo again, and Justin Tellez singled home Timothy Wells.
Hardy hit his second homer in the sixth inning to trim the Braves’ lead to 3-2, but they were able to hold on behind behind Fonseca and a clutch throw in the seventh.
Braves outfielder Ryan Cruz threw out the tying run at third to end the game.
“He (Foncseca) grinded it out and threw strikes,” Barendregt said. “He only made two mistakes (on the HRs), that’s it.”
TODAY’S QUARTERFINALS RESULTS
Vista Murrieta 2, South Hills 1
Mira Costa 4, Bishop Amat 2
Diamond Bar 5, Gahr 3
Oaks Christian 14, Northview 4
San Dimas 19, Sonora 5
Baldwin Park 3, La Sierra 2
Serra vs. Diamond Bar
San Dimas at Oaks Christian
Baldwin Park vs. El Rancho
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Mira Costa took advantage of Bishop Amat’s mistakes and senior lefty Chris Alcala did the rest, going the distance to lift the Mustangs to a 4-2 victory over the Lancers in Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinal.
Mira Costa (23-11) advances to Tuesday semifinals, where it will face the Peninsula-Elsinore winner.
Alcala gave up just five hits and retired the Lancers in order in the seventh to finish it off.
“I just tried to go out there and throw strikes,” Alcala said. “Coming into the game coaches told me we’re going to try and saw them off, throw the fast ball soft and away. It definitely helped.”
Alcala and Amat starter Andrew Eppenbach battled through four scoreless innings when Amat’s defense let Eppenbach down.
With a runner on first and two outs, Eppenbach got Mira Costa’s Austin Henning to hit a routine grounder to second, but Evan Claproth’s throw to first was dropped for an error.
After the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, the Lancers walked clean-up hitter Jack Webber intentionally to load the bases.
Braden Casady made them pay, singling home a pair to go up 2-0.
Mustang’s coach Cassidy Olson hasn’t spoken to the local media this season and said he doesn’t want to jinx it now.
But assistant Rob Duron was more than happy to talk about Casady’s pay-off single.
“That’s baseball, anybody that’s played the game knows it,” Duron said. “It’s a very fickle, fickle thing. A walk here, ground ball there, drop one here and all of a sudden the flood gates are open.”
Amat coach Andy Nieto said mistakes are magnified against tough teams in late playoff rounds.
“I’ve said it the whole time, you’ve got to trade punches,” Nieto said. “You can’t give back extra outs or extra opportunities, that’s when you put yourself in a position to get beat. Unfortunately, that’s what happened today. It just was a little too much to come back from.”
Amat tried, but fell behind 3-0 after walking Kevin Lopez with the bases loaded, forcing in Gordon Cardenas.
Bryan Mendendez and Claproth opened with back-to-back singles in the sixth inning.
Menendez later scored on Christian Moya’s ground out, and Claproth scored after Michael Hernandez reached first on an error to trim the Mustangs’ lead to 3-2.
Mira Costa’s Grant Livornese gave Alcala some breathing room, however, by singling home Garrett Wells in the seventh to go up 4-2.
“We could have cracked,” Duron said. “There were times they (Amat) had guys on base and we didn’t crack. The kids are playing great and they believe in coach Olson’s system, we always have. We’ve hung together through all the things that they threw at us this year. And the kids, they didn’t fracture, instead they got stronger.”
Nieto didn’t blame the error for the loss, he praised Alcala and his team for advancing to the quarters after a horrible start to the season.
“The way these guys turned the season around, to start off 6-10 and win 13 out of their last 15, I can’t be more proud of them,” Nieto said. “They defended the honor of our program in terms of putting themselves in a position to play for a championship.
“Unfortunately in the end we needed a little Amat magic and it just wasn’t there today. Hats off to Mira Costa, they played better.”