By Stephen Ramirez
SAN BERNARDINO — For two months, the Walnut High School baseball team was living a dream.
Saturday was a nightmare.
Marco Valenzuela had three RBIs and Gallion Copper tossed a two-hit shutout as Redondo Union ended the Mustangs’ 18-game winning streak and dream of a CIF-Southern Section title with a 10-0 victory over Walnut in the Division 3 title game at San Manuel Stadium.
Duncan McKinnon also had two RBIs for the Sea Hawks, who finished 29-7 and won the school’s first baseball division title.
Andy Rodriguez and Maxwell Masana had singles for the Mustangs, who finished 21-8-2. Walnut was seeking its second baseball title and in its first championship game since 1982. It was also their first title game appearance since winning in 1982.
“I give credit to (Redondo),” said Walnut coach Paul Acosta, whose team upset USA Today No. 1 San Dimas in the semifinals. “We prepared well. We were ready to play today; Cody Dye was ready to pitch today. I’ll take him any day. I’ll take him tomorrow and the next day, I’ll take him too.
“It’s just credit to those guys. Their reputation was that they hit the ball, and we saw with our own eyes that they hit the ball well. “
Redondo Union all but put it way before Walnut had a chance to bat, scoring five runs on four hits in the first.
Dye, who brought a 9-0 record and 0.83 earned run average into Saturday, got behind early, giving up a walk on four pitches and a single by Jacob Springman to start the game.
Brady Dorn followed with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead before Dye walked in run and Jason Clebowicz followed with a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 advantage. Valenzuela then hit a two-run double to left-center field to make it 5-0.
Dye needed 33 pitches.
“I got behind a lot,” Dye said. “They are a good hitting team and when you get behind hitters, it’ll happen.”
Walnut never really recovered.
Cooper retired the first 10 batters before a walk to Andre Alvarez in the fourth. He finished with the two-hitter and struck out four.
The Mustangs, trailing 5-0, did have a shot to get back in it in the fourth. Quinn Cooper followed Alvarez’s free pass with a walk and then Rodriguez singled to load the bases.
But Michael Mora lined out to right field, ending the threat and Walnut’s chances.
“That would have been a break,” Acosta said. “Michael Mora hit it hard, hit it on the button. He just hit it right at someone. Unfortunately, that was our only threat throughout the game.”
Redondo put it away in the fifth. Valenzuela had a RBI single and McKinnon a two-run triple for a 10-0 lead.
“We were anticipating more base runners, so we could apply more pressure,” Acosta said. “But you have to tip your hat to Gallion. He threw the ball well, kept us off-balance. That’s all you can do. Redondo was the better team today.”