Mater Dei 12, JSerra 4
Don't let the score fool you, this one was a lot closer than the 12-4 final would suggest. After JSerra drew first blood with a run in the top of the first, Mater Dei answered back with Jeremy Martinez
's three-run Home Run in the bottom half. The Monarchs would never relinquish the lead, though things got tense when JSerra cut the lead to one (5-4) in the top of the fifth. But several errors led to a monster seven run inning for Mater Dei who never looked back en route to retaking sole possession of first place in the Trinity League.
When Mater Dei head coach Burt Call was asked about what was going through his head when JSerra cut the lead to one, he said of his team's resiliency "our team has been like that all year, when a team pushes them they answer back, I’m very proud of them." Jeremy Martinez finished the day with five RBIs, going 2-for-3. Starter Davis Tominaga earned the win, going six strong innings for Mater Dei, while Ryan Teel
had a 4-for-4 day and Ty Moore
went 2-for-3 before closing out the seventh inning.
Call said of Tominaga "he pitched very well, his fastball and changeup were both working well, he kept the ball down and did a great job. He's only a sophomore and he's really matured throughout the season on the mound and we expect good things from him throughout the year."
The defending CIF Champions improved to 18-5 (9-2) on the year and are in position to land a high seed for this year's playoffs. JSerra drops to 19-4 (8-3), though both teams are playoff bound and appear to be strong contenders for the CIF Championship. Mater Dei now has not only a one-game lead, but also the tie breaker over JSerra. That tie-breaker could be important since the Monarchs will face Servite twice next week, meaning they are almost certain to face left handed ace Cole Irvin
. Call said of taking the lead in the League race "that's the position we wanted to be in after this week, we control our own destiny."
The loss snaps JSerra's twelve game winning streak, something that head coach Brett Kay thinks can be a positive, saying "that game hurt but I’d rather it happen now than in CIF. I’d rather not have that type of streak in CIF where they’re scared to go out and make mistakes." JSerra's winning streak spanned over a month, with their previous loss coming in the first meeting with Mater Dei on March 25.
Meanwhile Mater Dei is also trying not to let the pressure of being the defending champions affect them. Call said "we don't talk about last year's team, it's a different team. We just want to go about our business this year, one of our goals is to win the league. Once the league is over we'll focus on the playoffs."
Both of these teams have the talent to make deep runs in the playoffs and could possibly meet for the fourth time this season.
One of the toughest leagues in southern California has a very tight race coming down the stretch. JSerra (CA) battled back from a five run deficit to knock off defending CIF Southern Section champion Mater Dei 10-9 on Tuesday. JSerra has now won twelve straight games and erased Mater Dei's two game lead to move into a first place tie with the Monarchs.
Tuesday's matchup at JSerra certainly had a big game feel to it. Mater Dei had been in the driver's seat for most of the season but a hot streak from JSerra got them to within just a game heading into this week's home and home series. Mater Dei pulled out to a five run lead in the fourth inning, before JSerra battled back as they have done numerous times before this season. Trailing 9-4 in the fourth the Lions rallied for a couple of runs in the bottom of the frame, pushed across three in the sixth to pull even before Joey Ponder executed a game winning suicide squeeze with two strikes in the bottom of the seventh.
JSerra coach Brett Kay said "the suicide squeeze is something we work on all the time, it was a gamble, a two-strike squeeze is an even bigger gamble but I had faith in Ponder to get it down." The gamble paid off and the Lions are now 19-3 on the season. Following JSerra's come from behind win
in the championship game of the Anaheim Lions tournament three weeks ago Kay was asked about whether he thought the Lions had a chance to catch Mater Dei. Kay said "we think we can catch them, they're talented but we're no slouches either, we've got to play our best game against them." When asked if he thought the Lions played their best game on Tuesday he said "offensively it was the best we've swung the bat in my five years here, defensively we could have done some things better but we only made two bad pitches."
Its hard to argue with Kay's assessment of the offense, facing Junior Ty Moore
, who was part of a combined perfect game in the 2010 championhip game, the Lions piled up 18 hits. Mater Dei's Ryan Teel
had a big day at the plate as well, going 3-for-4 with two Home Runs including a grand slam for a seven RBI game. JSerra spread their production throughout the lineup, with only leadoff man Austin Hedges (who was walked twice) going hitless. Junior OF Tanner Bily
went 3-for-4 with a game tying Home Run in the sixth for the Lions and was a double short of the cycle.
Now with five games left in League play the race is down to three teams, 6-3 St. John Bosco trails 8-2 JSerra and Mater Dei. The last time JSerra lost was on March 25th...to Mater Dei. With the season series tied at one game a piece Saturday's rubber game has a lot more than bragging rights at stake. Kay, who is in his fifth season as head coach at JSerra played his high school ball at Mater Dei. Kay said of facing his alma mater "playing against them is special for me and I think our guys can sense it, my old high school coach [Bob Ickes] is still on their staff. I wear #13 because of him and he's a big part of why I got into coaching."
This matchup has enough implications that it can possibly overshadow the amount of talent that will be on the field. JSerra is currently ranked #13 in the nation, Mater Dei #39. There are a number of pro prospects and nearly every position on the field will feature a player who will go on to play at the next level. JSerra has won two very good tournaments this year; the Newport Elks and the Anaheim Lions. Mater Dei though won the biggest tournament of them all: the CIF Championship.
On Saturday JSerra will send Taylor Charpie to the mound, he will be opposed by Mater Dei's Davis Tominaga. Mater Dei head coach Burt Call said of the game "it's a very big game, whoever wins will take control of the league and there will be seeding implications." Kay agreed, saying "this is the biggest game of the year, Tuesday was the best high school game I've been a part of and I think Saturday will be no holds barred."