In afternoon games Saturday at the University of San Diego, second-seeded Olympian held off fourth-seeded Mar Vista by a 5-4 score to win the San Diego Section Division IV championship while second-seeded Bonita Vista limited top-seeded El Camino to just two hits in a 4-0 win to claim the Division II titlte. Bonita Vista scored three runs in the top of the first inning and the pitching combo of Ricky Reynoso (opening five innings) and Brandon Torio (final two innings) held the Wildcats scoreless. The Barons were making their first trip to the CIF finals since 1992. The division championships are the first for both schools. The 24 wins by Bonita Vista also is a school record. More details to follow.
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History will be made Saturday at the University of San Diego when three former Park View Blue Bombers take the field for their respective high school teams in the San Diego Section championship finals.
Bradley Roberto and Daniel Porras will represent Olympian in the Division IV title game while Seth Godfrey will represent Bonita Vista in the Division II title contest.
All three players grimaced when mention was made of the feat. It's hard not to make the connection, even five years removed from an event watched by millions of people around the world, yet it's also unfair to measure one's career from one event, no matter how magical it was at the time.
But it is what it is and the three 2009 Little League World Series champions are certainly floating in the air with the rest of their high school teammates at the moment.
Second-seeded Olympian outlasted third-seeded Calexico, 8-7, in an eight-inning thriller in a fifth-round game on Wednesday to advance to the Division IV championship game while second-seeded Bonita Vista cut down the potential game-tying run at the plate on the last play of Thursday's challenger bracket final to preserve a 5-4 victory against third-seeded Santa Fe Christian.
Olympian (14-17) will take on fourth-seeded Mar Vista (19-13) in the Division IV championship game at noon. It will be the first-ever CIF finals appearance for the fledgling Eagles.
Bonita Vista (23-10) will test top-seeded El Camino (21-11) in the Division II championship game at 3:30 p.m. It will be the first CIF finals appearance for the Barons since 1992.
Saturday's finals will also mark the first time that three Metro Conference teams have advanced to the division finals in the same season.
Bonita Vista is looking to secure its 24th win of the season, which would be a school record.
The Barons were out-hit 9-3 by the Eagles on Thursday but were the beneficiaries of poor defensive play by the visitors early on before relying on their own solid defensive play to later win the game.
Bonita Vista scored five runs in the first inning on five outs after a pair of Baron hitters missed third strike swings but reach base safely on passed balls. The extra base-runners ultimately proved to be Santa Fe Christian’s undoing.
Blake Flippen drew a walk to start Bonita Vista off in the first inning; he eventually scored when Brandon Torio struck out on a wild pitch. Torio safely reached first base with the Barons up 1-0. Daniel Schneemann then singled in two other teammates who had previously reached base, widening the BV lead to 3-0. Another strikeout and wild pitch combination extended the inning for starting pitcher Eduardo Perez, who singled in two more runs.
After the opening frame, the Barons led 5-0.
The Eagles scored once in the top of the second inning but went scoreless over the next three frames as Bonita Vista moved to within six outs of advancing the to division championship game while holding a 5-1 lead.
Perez appeared in firm control of protecting the lead until the sixth inning when Dillon Paulson reached base on an infield hit and Brian Blatnick followed with a double to place runners at second and third base. At this point, Perez exited the mound in favor of Torio.
However, it was evident from the start that Torio was not at his best.
Santa Fe Christian made it a 5-2 contest on a sacrifice fly by Evan Ogden. Gary Saggese then followed with a sharply-hit ball up the middle to place runners at the corners with one out registered thus far in the frame. A wild pitch that hopped over the backstop brought another run in to close the gap on the scoreboard to 5-3.
The Barons escaped further damage thanks to an inning-ending double play.
Bonita Vista failed to match the visitors in their half of the sixth, going three up and three down.
The Barons entered the top of the seventh needing just three outs to advance to the CIF championship game and Torio appeared to be rejuvenated by the emotion emanating from the home crowd. The first SFC hitter in the inning flew out to right field for the first out and Torio grabbed a come-backer off the bat of Chase Bushor for an easy lob to first base for the second out.
But getting that final out proved more arduous.
Cole Weaver reached base on a deep grounder to the hole and Paulson followed by spanking the ball solidly into left field. A wild pitch moved both runners up a base and now all the momentum was suddenly with the Eagles.
The Barons intentionally walked SFC's Blatnick to load the bases in an effort to create a force play at any base.
But Tyler Ledbetter appeared to foil that strategy with a base hit. The runner from third scored easily to trim the score to 5-4 and the runner from second followed, careening around third base en route to home plate as the throw from center field came home.
Paulson appeared to beat Flippen's throw home but BV catcher Chris O'Neill managed to block the plate with his body. When the home plate umpire signaled the out call in the rising dust, the Baron dugout emptied onto the field amid wild celebration.
The visitors, who felt that Paulson had gotten a piece of the plate to tie the game, were left in disbelief by the call.
O'Neill, who was brought up from the team's junior varsity squad midway through the season for his defensive play, admitted it was the most heated bang-bang play he had ever been involved in to that date.
"When I saw the ball come in, it was a perfectly-placed throw," O'Neill recounted. "I placed my leg out to protect the plate, though I still wanted to be mobile. The ball was waist high. He (the SFC runner) tried to take me out but my leg prevented him from tagging home plate."
"When I saw the throw come in to our catcher, I knew right away that he was going to be out," Torio explained. "It felt amazing."
Amazing had to be the word, period, to describe Bonita Vista's latest two wins. Santa Fe Christian, which had sailed through the winners bracket, including an earlier 3-0 win over the Barons, only needed to win one more game to advance to the CIF final. However, the Metro-Mesa League champions buckled down and refused to lose either of those two games.
Instead, the boys in blue advanced.
"That's the secret really that it came down to that one play," BVHS coach Vince Gervais noted. "We had two teams that were somewhat evenly matched in pitching and the small-ball portion. I think in the end that our defense was better."
Torio admitted that he didn't have his best stuff.
"I couldn't get the fastball over for strikes," he said. "They were waiting for the fastball. I was just hoping to get the ball over for strikes and to get ground balls. It worked out."
Everyone had to agree the Barons' opening five-run inning set the stage for the rest of the game.
"I wanted a clutch hit for my team," said Schneemann, who pitched five innings in relief to pick up the win in Bonita Vista's 5-4 cliff-hanger victory against the Eagles in 10 innings two days earlier. "I wanted to help my team out offensively after helping my team out defensively (in the previous game). It knew it was a big situation. When you get a lot of runs early, you get a lot of momentum for the rest of the game."
Gervais gave proper tribute to his team for reaching the division title game.
"We haven't been there since 1992," the BVHS coach explained. "A lot of that is due to kids who have left to other schools. We are at a disadvantage because none of the fields here have lights. Because of that, you have limited practice time. It's a testament to what the kids have accomplished."
For the tough-luck Eagles, Paulson struck out six Barons in six innings on the hill while Weaver went three-for-four and scored one run while Saggese went two-for-two with one run scored and one RBI.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW
(2) Bonita Vista Barons (23-10) vs. (1) El Camino Wildcats (21-11)
Saturday, June 7 at University of San Diego, 3:30 p.m.
Bonita Vista Barons
•Esteban Velasco, .351, 15 RBI, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run, 28 runs scored
•Brandon Torio, .333, 18 RBI, 9 doubles, 1 triple, 17 runs scored
•Andres Velasco, .268, 9 RBI, 3 doubles, 7 runs scored
•Eduardo Perez, .264, 13 RBI, 3 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run, 17 runs scored
•Scott Beckstrom, .254, 8 RBI, 4 doubles, 6 runs scored
•Daniel Schneeman, .242, 15 RBI, 3 doubles, 13 runs scored
•Blake Flippen, .241, 3 RBI, 1 double, 14 runs scored
•Chris O'Neill, .235, 4 RBI, 1 double, 4 runs scored
•Ricky Reynoso, .232, 4 RBI, 6 runs scored
Stolen bases: Esteban Velasco 22/24, Schnneemann 9/13, Torio 8/9
•Eduardo Perez, 3-0 record, 1.18 ERA, 36 strikeouts in 41 innings
•Daniel Schneemann, 2-0 record, 1.43 ERA, 14 strikeouts in 14 innings
•Ricky Reynoso, 4-1 record, 1.57 ERA, 36 strikeouts in 49 innings,
•Kevin McCann, 3-2 record, 1.91 ERA, 9 strikeouts in 14 innings
•Brandon Torio, 6-3 record, 2.04 ERA, 54 stiekouts in 48 innings
•John Freeman, 0-0 record, 2.80 ERA, 3 strikeouts in 10 innings
Shutouts: Reynoso 2, McCann 2, Perez 1, Schneemann 1
Saves: Torio 3, Reynoso 2, McCann 1
EL Camino Wildcats
•Robbie Johnson, .408, 20 RBI, 10 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs, 21 runs scored
•Jordan Pearce, .386, 21 doubles, 1 triple, 7 home runs, 33 runs scored
•Michael Lopez, .349, 15 RBI, 8 doubles, 1 home run, 18 runs scored
•Tanner Olthoff, .276, 15 RBI, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 10 runs scored
Stolen bases: Johnson 8/8, Pearce 6/7
•Troy Lamparello, 7-1 record
•Michael Lopez, 4-2 record
•Alex Wall, 4-6 record
•Jordan Pearce, 3-0 record, 4 saves