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Riverside North reaches Division 1 final with 10-4 victory over Lakewood

The Huskies will play for the title against Anaheim Esperanza, a 6-2 winner over Long Beach Wilson.

May 31, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

Center fielder Steven Pena of Riverside North made two catches of fly balls during the sixth inning of a Southern Section Division 1 semifinal game Tuesday against Lakewood that some major leaguers wouldn't have caught, which makes it appropriate that his next game will be at Dodger Stadium.

Playing spectacular defense while also collecting 11 hits, North defeated Lakewood, 10-4, at Blair Field in Long Beach, earning a spot in the Division 1 final Friday night just two years after a 4-24 season.

"It really hasn't even hit me yet that we're going to be playing at Dodger Stadium," Pena said.

North will play Anaheim Esperanza, which defeated Long Beach Wilson, 6-2. A four-run fourth inning, ignited by a throwing error, lifted the Aztecs to victory.

North (26-7), which shared the Big VIII League championship with Riverside King, took advantage of three Lakewood errors and got off to a quick start, scoring five runs in the first inning. Evan Perez had a two-run inside-the-park home run in the inning.

But it was the Huskies' ability to make tough defensive plays that keyed the victory. Shortstop Gabriel Franca caught a line drive to halt a Lakewood rally in the second. And it was Pena making a diving catch, followed by a running catch in the sixth that left the Lancers with a helpless feeling.

"It's so special," Coach Steve Madril said of his team's opportunity to play for its first section title since 1994, when major leaguer Adam Kennedy led the team.

There were two dramatic endings in the Division 4 semifinals. Palm Desert scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh with two outs to defeat Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 2-1, at College of the Desert. Cody Kabeary drove in the winning run.

La Puente Bishop Amat rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat Torrance, 5-4, at USC on an RBI single in the seventh by Andrew Gutierrez. Palm Desert and Bishop Amat will meet in Friday's 4:30 p.m. final at Dodger Stadium, and it will mark the return of a Garvey to Dodger Stadium, because one of Palm Desert's top players is outfielder Ryan Garvey, the son of ex-Dodger Steve Garvey.

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