Garfield ace pitcher Anthony Cardenas was wondering if he’d ever get in to pitch at Dodger Stadium. After 6 2/3 innings, he was finally called upon Saturday afternoon to get the final out with the tying runs on base. More than 2,000 Garfield fans, who had been chanting “Let’s go Bulldogs,” rose to their feet.
Mario Lopez of Narbonne didn’t make it easy. He sent a Cardenas pitch to deep right field.
“At first, my heart dropped a little,” Cardenas said, “but once I saw my outfielder go back slowly, it was good.”
Demien Flores-Munoz made the catch just in front of the warning track, starting a Garfield victory celebration with a 5-3 win over Narbonne in the City Section Division I final, Garfield’s first championship since 1997.
A four-run sixth inning for Garfield gave the Bulldogs a 5-2 lead. Javier Cerda had the key hit, an RBI single, to tie the score. Then came a ground out to score another run, a passed ball to score a third, and Daniel Canales’ RBI single.
Narbonne was unlucky in the third when it appeared Raymond Castro threw out Canales trying to score from second. The umpire disagreed, ruling him safe and allowing Garfield to close its deficit to 2-1.
Castro had two hits for Narbonne. Owen Martin hit a double and triple for the Gauchos.
Cesar Ferrer allowed four hits and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings for Garfield.
The Bulldogs have played all season without a field while there is construction on campus. Their football field and track have been used for practices.
“It’s amazing and a privilege to play on this field,” Cardenas said.
Canales said of the team’s dedication, “Playing on the football field, every day waking up for weight training, this means a lot to East Los Angeles.”
Coach Ruben Torres brought his 8-year-old son, Evan, to go through pregame activities with the team. Torres is just thrilled that his community supports students so strongly.
“We always travel well,” he said of the fan attendance. “It’s why it’s a special place.”