It happened so fast on a cloudless, picturesque Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium that Justin Scovel thought he was dreaming.
With two out and a 3-and-2 count in the bottom of the seventh inning of the City Section Division I championship game, the Woodland Hills El Camino Real senior hit a score-tying triple. Then he raced home to score the winning run after a passed ball and was mobbed in a dog pile behind home plate to conclude a wild 9-8 victory over San Pedro.
His coach, Josh Lienhard, was breathless.
"I'm still shocked at the day Scovel had," he said.
It was the second triple of the game for Scovel, who had four runs batted in. He was an unsung third baseman who spent two low-profile seasons on junior varsity, then was a reserve on varsity last season. But he kept putting in time in the batting cages, worked his way into the starting lineup and came through on the biggest stage a teenager could ask for.
"It was tons of pressure," he said. "I was just looking for anything close. I got the pitch I wanted and just drove it."
San Pedro brought in its ace, Jonathan Mata, from the bullpen with a runner aboard and one out in the seventh and his team ahead, 8-7. Mata got a fly out for the second out. Then the Pirates were one strike away from victory. But Scovel drove the ball to right-center, and after center fielder Ronnie Galosic made a valiant but unsuccessful effort to catch the ball pinch-runner Jonathan Cohn scored from first.
Then, with Jose Cardona at the plate, a Mata pitch got away from catcher Danny Matienzo, and El Camino Real (19-11) had won its sixth City title after a nearly three-hour game that produced three lead changes.
The dimensions of Dodger Stadium were a factor for both teams. There were misjudged fly balls, wild pitches, a popup lost in the sun, a dropped fly ball. But the drama and excitement kept building.
San Pedro (24-6) outhit the Conquistadores, 13-7. Galosic seemed to have saved the Pirates with his relief pitching, coming on in the fifth and escaping a no-out, bases-loaded situation to keep his team ahead, 7-5.
But the Conquistadores followed the lead of Scovel, who learned an important lesson during his high school career.
"Never give up," he said.
Afterward, Scovel, who joined a group of El Camino Real players in refusing to shave during the playoffs, was plotting the rest of his day.
"I got prom tonight," he said. "I got to shave, shower, take pictures. It's an amazing day, the best day in my life."