By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
LA PUENTE – Bishop Amat High School’s early-season struggles are a distant memory. Now the Lancers are one of the hottest teams in the CIF-Southern Section and they continued to fit that billing on Tuesday.
Anthony Walters drove in the tying run and Bijor Decena scored on a balk in a three-run fifth inning and the Lancers rallied for a 3-1 victory over visiting Redondo in a Division 3 semifinal game.
Nick Valdez had a key double and Andrew Eppenbach, Isaac Archer and Scott Hurst combined on a five-hitter for Bishop Amat, which improved to 20-11 and will face No. 1 seed Palm Desert at 2 p.m. on Friday at Dodger Stadium. It was the Lancers’ third consecutive come-from-behind win, after rallying for wins over Orange in the second round and Quarter Hill in the quarterfinals last week.
Redondo, which got an RBI from Jason Clebowicz, finished 21-13.
Amat, after falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, came to life in the fifth, and again it relied on the bottom of the lineup. Bryan Menendez led off with a walk before Valdez lined a one-out double to put runners on second and third. It was his second big hit in as many games after getting the tying double in last week’s 5-2 win over Quartz Hill.
Christian Moya walked to load the bases before Walter lined a single to tie it at 1. Reliever Cooper Gallion then was called for a balk, allowing pinch-runner Decena to score for a 2-1 lead. Gallion then walked back-to-back batters to make it 3-1.
Bishop Amat coach Andy Nieto: “These guys have the wow factor now. They deserve everything they’ve received over the last few weeks. People had us dead in the water three weeks ago. But I told them that before we can right the ship, you have to be willing to go down with the ship. They all did that. You saw the way the game went. But when you are playing good baseball, and you put yourself in a good position to rally, good things can happen. Right now, we’re in a good place.”
Bishop Amat’s Nick Valdez: “Our seniors just stepped up. There was no moment in time where we though we were out of it. Everyone just happened to come up clutch. I just happened to be the guy who finished it off.”
Bishop Amat’s Scott Hurst: “We really proved ourselves. We’ve been down (the last) three games. We don’t quit. We play until the game’s over. We see (what happens) at Dodger Stadium.”
By Stephen Ramirez