Beckman's Zach Espinosa throws a strike against Mission Viejo during the championship game of the Newport Elks Tournament Friday afternoon, March 10, 2017. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

Beckman swipes a thrilling victory in Newport Elks title game


MISSION VIEJO The championship game of the Newport Elks Tournament’s Lerner Division on Friday produced an outstanding pitching duel between Mission Viejo’s Tanner Bibee and Beckman’s Zach Espinoza.

A perfectly executed double steal executed in the top of the ninth was the difference for the Patriots, who came away with a 1-0 victory in a contest that needed two extra innings to decide at Mission Viejo High.

Espinoza allowed just two hits and struck out 11 over six innings, facing just two batters over the minimum. The senior struck out four in a row during one stretch.

“He has been waiting for this moment and it’s here now,” Beckman coach Kevin Lavalle said. “He is not doing anything special except going out and competing and trusting his ability and trusting all three pitches.”

Bibee was equally as brilliant for the Diablos (4-1). The senior right-hander pitched all nine innings, allowing three hits and a run and striking out six.

Collin Villegas picked up the victory in relief for Beckman (5-1), striking out five over three innings without allowing a hit.

Beckman manufactured the winning run with two outs in the ninth. Willie Lajoie walked, stole second and then reached third on an infield hit by Jamie Zaveri.

With Jake Groves batting, Zaveri took off for second while Lajoie moved toward the plate. Mission Viejo catcher Matt Gristead threw to second but the throw was cut off as Lajoie raced home.

The throw home wasn’t close as Lajoie slid across the plate.

In the top of the first inning, Beckman had the bases loaded with one out, but Bibee struck out Zaveri and retired Jake Groves on a flyout to center to get out of the jam.

Espinoza had seven strikeouts through first four innings .

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