By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
There was a method to Bishop Amat baseball coach Andy Nieto’s madness when he put his Lancers to the test of arguably the toughest nonleague schedule in the area during the early part of the season
The payoff is coming now.
Bishop Amat has fully recovered from its 0-4 start and is now in position to win its ninth CIF-Southern Section title. But the Lancers first must get by Redondo, which they host in a Division 3 semifinal game Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. The winner advances to the Friday’s championship game, scheduled for 2 p.m. at Dodger Stadium.
“We have a pretty good feel for the things (Redondo) has done,” said Nieto, whose Lancers have gone 19-7 since opening the season with the four losses. “But when it’s all set and done, it’s about us. There’s not a team more battle-tested than us. We put this schedule together for a reason, which is to being playing our best baseball at the end.
“It’s so far, so good. But it’s survive and advance.”
The Lancers have done that recently, rallying for wins in its past two games, including a 5-2 victory at Quartz Hill in the quarterfinals.
Tuesday’s opponent, Redondo, is on a similar hot streak. The Sea Hawks (21-12), after finishing second in the Bay League, knocked off No. 2 seed Bonita (6-4) in the second round before beating Gahr, 3-2, in the quarterfinals. They have won eight consecutive games.
Redondo is led by Cain Castor, who is hitting .397 with 17 RBIs, and Duncan McKinnon, who is hitting .483 with 14 RBIs.
Bishop Amat counters with outfielder Scott Hurst, who is hitting .444 with 24 RBIs, and catcher Michael Palos, who is hitting .309 with 24 RBIs. Infielder Christian Moya had the big hit, a three-run home run in the win over Quartz Hill. The Lancers also feature pitchers Isaac Archer, Alex Garcia and Andrew Eppenbach, who have combined for an 18-8 record.
“We’ve played in a lot of one run games,” Nieto said. “Even though it didn’t always go our way, I think it just proved to our guys that we can compete at this level. It’s about us, about protecting the ball, being a tough out at the plate, playing clean baseball. We’re going to find a way to get back in the game and find a way to win it.”