By Stephen Ramirez
SANTA ANA >> It wasn’t for a CIF Southern Section title or even a league crown, but it still was a pretty big milestone for the La Mirada High School baseball team to hang its hat on.Freshman Jared Jones threw six shutout innings and senior shortstop Kevin Kendall had two hits and stole two bases to help La Mirada to its first win in the Boras Classic with a 4-1 victory over traditional power Bishop Amat in a consolation-round game at Mater Dei High.
Joseph McNealey also had a two-run single and Eugene Jeon had an RBI for the Matadores (16-3). Jayson Gonzalez had single and scored a run for the Lancers (14-6), who lost their second consecutive game after winning 10 in a row, including last week’s National Classic in Fullerton.
La Mirada, ranked No. 1 by the Whittier Daily News, will face Aliso Niguel, which defeated Damien 6-2, in a consolation semifinal at noon at Mater Dei Thursday. Bishop Amat, ranked No. 1 by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, will face Damien Thursday at 9 a.m., also at Mater Dei.
“We were disappointed we didn’t get a win (Tuesday),” said La Mirada coach Jim Zurn, whose Matadores opened the tournament with a 5-1 loss to Mater Dei. “But Bishop Amat, with (its) history, is a really good team. We came out and played a really good game. (Jones) gave us a good start, and we knew he would.
“(It’s) our first-ever win in the Boras Classic for our program. It’s very monumental for our school and our city.”
Jones limited Amat to five hits and struck out six to improve to 3-1. He got in trouble just once, but quickly pitched his way out it.
The Lancers, trailing 3-0 in the fifth, loaded the bases with one out following back-to-back singles by Jesus Maldonado and AJ Barraza and a walk to Gonzalez. But Jones struck out Ben Hurst and induced Richard Castro to pop out.
“I don’t think about it,” Jones said. “I just go into the stretch and try to block it out and see what happens.”
La Mirada scored the only runs it would need in the fourth when it took a 3-0 lead. Kendall, a UCLA signee who is considered one of the top shortstops in Southern California, led off with a double. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when a pop up by Jeon was dropped.
Emilio Morales followed with a walk and Nathan Sena singled. McNealey then dropped a two-run single down the left-field line for a 3-0 advantage.
“I really liked the way we swung the bats today,” Zurn said. “We made some things happen with our legs to force the issue and we got some big two-out, clutch hits.”
Amat scored its only run in the seventh. Gonzalez walked with two outs, stole second before scoring on a single by Castro.
“We were just flat,” Bishop Amat coach Joe Hoggatt said. “This is two games in a row that we’ve played flat. Not to take anything away (from La Mirada). We (played under) a lot of emotion last week (in winning the National Classic). We can make every excuse known to man, but the bottom line is you have to come out and play.
“We haven’t met that challenge. But these are all good things for us. They are learning experiences.”