The La Serna baseball team hasn’t had a great season. Yet, that hasn’t stopped co-coach Anthony Gonzles Jr. from believing his team has a good chance at making the playoffs. Here’s what Gonzales had to say about the postseason, Friday’s epic win over La Serna and the schedule for this week’s final games.
La Serna baseball co-coach Anthony Gonzales Jr. wasn’t sure whether to label the Lancers’ 10-inning, 7-5 Del Rio League victory over Whittier last Friday as an epic win or a momentum changer.
“I’ll guess we’ll find out (today),” Gonzales Jr. said. “We swept Santa Fe two weeks ago and I thought that was the game it all turned around. The next week we lost on Wednesday to Whittier, so we’ll see.”
If the season would’ve ended Friday, the only way the fourth-place Lancers (8-13 overall, 7-6 in league) would have reached the playoffs was as an at-large team.
The good news for the Lancers is they can improve their playoff standing with two final games this week, starting today at league co-leading El Rancho (13-9, 9-4) at 3:15 p.m.
“The thing about El Rancho is they compete and find ways to win,” Gonzales Jr. said.
The last time El Rancho and La Serna met in the season’s final series was in 2008. The Dons trailed the Lancers by a game entering the last week of the season and swept La Serna 7-1 and 3-1 to grab the league crown.
The win was the last for El Rancho, which fell to Downey 4-3 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.
La Serna, on the other hand, rebounded and defeated Montebello (6-1) in the first round before stunning top-seeded Crespi 7-6 in the second round.
The Lancers’ playoff run ended in the next round with a 2-1 loss at South Hills.
“There is a lot of respect between both clubs because of the history and because of Gonzales,” Dons coach Frank Llanes said. “He was a great player for Cal, and in those days the league title was between El Rancho and Cal.
“I think he brought over that history and mentality to La Serna. I look forward to seeing La Serna this week.”
In the Whittier victory, the Lancers trailed 3-1 after one inning and Gonzales Jr., pulled starting pitcher Nick Loya in favor of senior Connor Burke.
The shortstop threw 8 2/3 innings while allowing one earned run the rest of the way.
La Serna tied the game with a three- run seventh on a two-out, two-run single from Aaron Ashton followed by an RBI double from Cody Martinez, which scored pinch runner Daniel Balzano.
What made La Serna’s win even more interesting was the Lancers played with eight players for two innings after center fielder Andrew Rosales was ejected in the eighth and Gonzales Jr., had exhausted all of his reserves.
La Serna eventually won in the bottom of the 10th on a two-run homer from Burke, who also was 4 for 6 in the game.
“That game was amazing. It was like the Crespi game,” Gonzales Jr. said. “Hopefully, we still have some magic.”
Del Rio League race
Whittier and Santa Fe meet this week while California and Pioneer are also scheduled to play two games.
The Cardinals (14-9, 9-4) are tied with El Rancho for first place, a game ahead of the third-place Chiefs (11-12, 8-5).
The reigning league champion Condors (10-13, 6-7) need to sweep the Titans (1-15, 0-13) to have any chance of making the playoffs.
There will be no such drama this week for Whittier Christian, which clinched the Olympic League title outright last Friday with a 2-0 win over Village Christian.
The Heralds (20-5, 9-1) close the season this week with a home game against L.A. Baptist on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
Whittier Christian clinched its first league title since 2008.