At 6 feet 6, first baseman Nick Alpers from Camarillo Cornerstone Christian doesn't let too many throws sail over his head. And he showed Friday in the Southern Section Division 7 championship game his height comes in handy in other ways.
It was Alpers' ability to catch a pop fly with his back to home plate in the third inning with two runners aboard and two outs that prevented a potential big inning for Los Angeles Milken. Pitchers Nathan and Aaron Roth did the rest, and Cornerstone Christian won its second consecutive Division 7 title with a 5-1 victory over Milken at the Riverside Sports Complex.
Milken (18-5) trailed, 1-0, in the third when it got consecutive singles by Corey Gitman and David Blazer with two outs. Greg Kahan was jammed on a pitch, but the ball was floating over the head of Alpers for what looked like a bloop single.
He made an over-the-shoulder catch.
"The fact I have long legs makes it so much easier to run," he said. "I barely caught it out of the corner of my eyes as it was coming down, reached out and hoped for the best."
Kahan was in disbelief.
"I was very frustrated," he said. "I looked up, 'Yes, two runs, we're back in it.' He made a great play."
Milken closed to within 2-1 in the sixth with back-to-back doubles by Kahan and Mitchell Mayer, but the Eagles (25-3) broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth with three runs aided by a run-scoring double from Joseph Aliano and Alpers' RBI single.
It has been a memorable two-year run for Cornerstone Christian, which won 46 consecutive games against schools similar in size to its 70-student enrollment. Its only losses this season were to Anaheim Loara, Thousand Oaks and Calabasas.
Oxford pitchers rock
Daniel Lucak (15-3), Steve Criss and Patrick Zajac combined on a seven-hitter to help Cypress Oxford Academy (23-5) win its second consecutive Division 6 title with a 2-0 win over Lancaster Desert Christian (28-2).
Criss had to escape a bases-loaded, no-outs situation in the sixth by getting a strikeout and double play. And Zajac came on in the seventh, faced a bases-loaded situation and got Desert Christian's best hitter, Taylor Aikenhead, to ground out to end the game.
"We had them off balance all day," Coach Dana Bedard said.
Domination in Division 5
From beginning to end, top-seeded Riverside Woodcrest Christian (27-1) has dominated Division 5, and the Royals ended their season with a championship performance in defeating Temecula Linfield Christian, 14-0.
Woodcrest Christian scored five runs with two outs in the second inning. The highlights included a two-run double by Sean Matthews and RBI singles from Michael Davis, Matt Phillips and Anthony Curatola. Davis added a two-run home run in the fourth and finished with three hits.
Matt Chabot allowed three hits and struck out 10 in a complete-game performance.