JSerra defeats Sherman Oaks Notre Dame for first Division 1 title

JSerra defeats Sherman Oaks Notre Dame for first Division 1

Two years ago, the best baseball team in Southern California was San Juan Capistrano JSerra. Off to an 11-1 start, the Lions’ season abruptly ended when the pandemic shut down campuses across California. Last season, with 13 Division 1 recruits, JSerra was supposed to win the Southern Section Division 1 title. Except the Lions were blanked in the final.

This season, JSerra started league play 1-5. The Lions were forgotten. Their chance for a first CIF title had supposedly passed them by. Fast forward to Friday night at Cal State Fullerton, where their joyous victory celebration after a 3-1 win over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame served as a cleansing moment to rid the frustrations of the past.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Dominic Smaldino ended a 1-1 deadlock with an RBI single off Notre Dame ace Cole Clark to score Owen Fuller, who had tripled. Then David Horn hit a sacrifice fly for a two-run advantage. It put closer Tyler Gough in the position on which he thrives — closing out memorable victories.

Andrew Lamb hit the ball over the head of Notre Dame center fielder Dean West in the third inning for an RBI triple and a 1-0 JSerra lead. Gough came in from the bullpen in the top of fifth to strike out West with the bases loaded for a decisive moment.

But Notre Dame wasn’t done. After two walks in the top of the sixth, the Knights executed what has become their favorite play in the playoffs — a bunt. Adam Schlesinger got it down and the throw to first was wild, allowing the tying run to score.

Division 5

Burbank Burroughs 1, Moreno Valley 0: An unflappable Gunnar Nichols pitched the Bears to their first baseball championship, striking out 10, walking none and allowing five hits. Mason Medina had an RBI single in the fourth to account for the game’s only run.

Division 7

Baldwin Park 4, Hueneme 2: Pitcher Jason Martinez got a called third strike on a 3-and-2 count with two outs and two runners aboard in the bottom of the seventh inning to secure the first CIF title for Baldwin Park. He earlier scored the tiebreaking run in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Isaiah Ariza.

It was an emotional win for coach Jake Barendregt. He said his wife has been battling cancer. “I’m trying not to bawl,” he said. “At the same time it’s been one of my best years and my worst.”

City Section

Chatsworth 6, Granada Hills 4: For the second straight season, No. 1-seeded Granada Hills was eliminated in its first game of the City Section Open Division playoffs following a bye. Jose Ruedas struck out seven in five innings.

Roosevelt 1, Palisades 0: Andrew Contreras threw 62/3 innings of shutout ball and Adrian Godoy got the final out to send the Rough Riders into Wednesday’s 3 p.m. semifinals against Chatsworth at USC.

Birmingham 5, San Pedro 0: Daniel Flores threw a three-hitter and Gavin Taylor homered to help No. 2-seeded Birmingham advance to Wednesday’s Open Division semifinals at 6 p.m. against El Camino Real at USC.


El Camino Real 1, Sun Valley Poly 0: Oscar Lopez threw a no-hitter and the Royals pushed across a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to advance to the Open Division semifinals.


Mission Viejo 2, Long Beach Millikan 1: Pitcher Sofia Elliott escaped a seventh-inning jam to lift the Diablos to the Division 2 championship.

La Verne Bonita 6, Las Flores Tesoro 0: Brooklyn Shroyer gave up five hits to lead Bonita to the Division 3 championship.

Temple City 4, Moorpark 2: Kassandra Gewecke pitched Temple City to the Division 4 title.

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