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Roundup: Woodbridge clinches share of title with wild finish
It was one of those baseball games in which the team that makes the first mistakes will lose.
Beckman made those mistakes.
Woodbridge scored the game’s only run on a Beckman error and a balk in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 1-0 victory Tuesday at Windrow Park.
The win put the Warriors in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Coast League with one league game left. It also secured for Woodbridge its first league championship since 1993, well before this year’s Warriors players were born.
On the back of their undershirts is the slogan, “One Team, One Goal.”
“And that goal has been to win this league,” said senior pitcher Jake Larson.
Woodbridge is 11-3 in league. Beckman, the league champion last season and for six of the previous seven years, is tied for second place, with Corona del Mar. Beckman and Corona del Mar are 10-4 in league, and both have clinched playoff berths.
As for which teams will be the league’s Nos. 1, 2 and 3 playoff representatives, that could be determined Thursday, the final day of the regular season, when Corona del Mar plays Irvine, Beckman plays Northwood and Woodbridge plays University.
Those playoff representation designations are important. A No. 1 team will get a first-round home game against another league’s No. 3 or 4 team, a No. 2 team could open on the road or at home against another league’s No. 2 or, less likely, a No. 3, and a No. 3 is almost certainly going to have to win a wild-card playoff game to get to the first round.
In the Woodbridge half of the eighth inning, Long Beach State-signee Zak Baayoun reached on the game’s only error. He advanced to second base on Jackson Lyon’s sacrifice bunt. Larson was intentionally walked and Spencer Weston hit a deep fly ball that sent Beckman right fielder Sam Harline running toward the fence for a twisting, turning catch that was the last of several terrific defensive plays provided by both teams.
With Ryan Santa Cruz at bat and facing an 0-1 count, a balk was called on Beckman sophomore pitcher Collin Villegas for failing to come to a full stop in the set position. Baayoun sprinted home and the Warriors’ celebration began.
Larson pitched seven scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 1.01. Baayoun pitched the eighth inning to get the win and improve to 8-2. His ERA is 1.96.
Beckman’s pitchers were equally excellent. Starter Jack Wiese went 51/3 shutout innings in which he allowed two hits. Villegas in 21/3 innings gave up no hits, no earned runs, one walk (intentional) and struck out two.
Woodbridge coach Tim Murray was proud of the way his team secured at least a share of the league title.
“That was one of the best high school baseball games I’ve been part of, and I’ve been doing this for 22 years,” said Murray, in his ninth season as Woodbridge’s head coach after many years as an assistant coach at El Dorado. “That team (Beckman) has won the league championship a lot. Our kids had never been in this situation before now.”
Beckman (20-5 overall) is ranked No. 8 in Orange County. In the Division 3 top 10, Beckman is No. 3 and Woodbridge (18-7) is No. 4. Redondo Union and Palm Desert are 1-2 in the division.
Also in the Pacific Coast League:
Corona del Mar 9, Northwood 0: The Sea Kings (20-4 overall, 10-4 league) remained in contention for the league title as Tommy Paoletti pitched a five-hitter and Nick Premer homered.
In the Crestview League:
Esperanza 8, Canyon 0: The host Aztecs (18-9, 10-2) clinched a share of the league championship.
In the Empire League:
No. 4 Cypress 7, Kennedy 3: The host Centurions (22-7, 9-0) clinched sole possession of the league championship.
In the North Hills League:
Villa Park 4, Brea Olinda 1: The host Spartans (14-13, 6-5) clinched a playoff berth.
In the Orange Coast League:
Laguna Beach 4, Calvary Chapel 3: The Breakers (14-12, 12-2) won at least a share of the league title with the home win over the second-place Eagles (18-6, 11-3).
In the Sea View League:
San Juan Hills 2, San Clemente 1: Nick Hernandez pitched a complete game for the host Stallions (15-12, 6-5).
In the South Coast League:
Capistrano Valley 6, No. 5 Aliso Niguel 3: The host Cougars (14-15, 3-8) are out of playoff contention but continue to beat playoff-bound opponents. Austin Moreira drove in two runs for Capo Valley.
In the Sunset League:
Los Alamitos 6, Marina 1: The visiting Vikings (20-9, 10-4) lost but still clinched the league championship because second-place Edison also lost.
In the Trinity League:
Mater Dei 6, St. John Bosco 2: Jonathan Schiffer’s three RBIs led the visiting Monarchs (15-12, 8-6) who remained in contention for a playoff berth.
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