It was the final pitch of Justin Garza's high school career. La Verne Bonita fans were on their feet. Teammates were ready to charge out of their third base dugout to celebrate a Southern Section Division 3 championship. And Garza wasn't about to disappoint in his Dodger Stadium moment.
"I was trying to end it on the best pitch I've ever thrown in my life," he said.
His fastball on a 3-and-2 count struck out Blake Kuehnle swinging and started a joyous celebration for the Bearcats, who came away with a 5-1 win over Alhambra, giving them their first championship since 1951.
Garza, a senior right-hander headed to Cal State Fullerton, finished with a three-hitter. He retired the final 12 batters. He struck out seven and walked two. His two-year record was 25-1, including 12-1 this season.
"He's the most focused kid I've coached," Bonita's John Knott said. "He deserves all the credit he gets. He has put in a lot of work and effort behind it."
Bonita (32-2) broke a 1-1 tie in the third by scoring four runs. It was Garza's squeeze bunt that left Alhambra (24-4) reeling. Runners were on second and third when Garza's bunt was fielded by pitcher Marco Briones. The throw didn't stay in the glove of first baseman Juan Morales after Garza touched the bag and made contact. Both runners scored.
Thomas Castro followed with his second hit of the game and Tyler Heslop contributed an RBI single. Nolan Henley singled and the fourth run came home on a throwing error. Alhambra had four errors on the day to none for Bonita.
Castro, a senior third baseman who finished the season with 48 hits, said of the Dodger Stadium experience, "It was wonderful, beautiful, amazing."
Pacifica is D2 champ
On a two-out, two-strike pitch in the bottom of the 10th inning, shortstop Trent Chatterton lined a single past third base to score Daniel Ferrell with the winning run and give Garden Grove Pacifica a 3-2 victory over Aliso Niguel in the Division 2 championship game.
"I was just trying to hit the ball hard," Chatterton said.
It was the first title for Pacifica (28-5) in a well-played game, with only one error. Aliso Niguel pitcher Brett Barker didn't walk a batter in nine innings while striking out seven.
It was Pacifica's one-two pitching punch of Kyle Davis and Max Bethell that brought home the victory. Davis threw eight innings and Bethell finished up with a scoreless ninth and 10th.
Chatterton had seven assists at shortstop in a flawless performance.
"It was wild," he said. "Dodger Stadium — there's nothing like it. The field is perfect."