El Toro wins baseball title
Jake Jackson throws a three-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory over Corona at Dodger Stadium.
After throwing a threehit shutout in the Southern Section Division 1 championship game on Friday night at Dodger Stadium, Jake Jackson of Lake Forest El Toro looked for someone to hug. He turned left, he turned right. Catcher Tyler Lasch came charging at him like a linebacker and tackled him to the ground. So began a dogpile that featured swan dives to near perfection.
El Toro’s 4-0 victory over Corona was all about Jackson receiving early run support and then doing what he does best — throw strikes. He struck out five and walked none. Corona never mounted a serious threat to score off a pitcher who was 12-1 this season and emerged as the best in Southern California after playing catcher all last season.
Griffin Canning and Jack Flaherty were pretty good pitchers during their high school days at Santa Margarita and Studio City Harvard-Westlake, respectively. Each ended their prep careers with complete-game victories in championship games at Dodger Stadium in 2014 and 2013.
Jackson equaled their performances, and we all know where they have gone. Canning went to UCLA and will be a first-round draft pick next week. Flaherty was a first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals. Jackson signed with Nevada.
“It’s indescribable,” Jackson said. “That was amazing. That was the best time of my life. I love competing with these guys.”
Jackson’s teammates gave him a comfortable cushion. Josh Zamora had an RBI double and Lasch added an RBI single in the first inning. Erik Tolman contributed an RBI single and Zamora had an RBI sacrifice fly in the second. Corona starter Michael Hobbs threw 41 pitches in the first inning and was pulled by the second inning.
El Toro’s pitching depth, strong defense and development of Zamora, Lasch and Tolman as clutch hitters helped the Chargers win their first title since 2008, when Colorado Rockes All Star third baseman Nolan Arenado was on the team. Arenado sent a video message to the players before the game, telling them to “have fun.”
In the Division 2 championship game at Dodger Stadium, Etiwanda relied on the defensive wizardry of the Freeman brothers, Tyler and Cody, to secure a 2-1 victory over Palm Desert.
Tyler, a senior shortstop headed to Texas Christian, had a running catch and several assists. Cody, a sophomore second baseman who’s committed to Baylor and will take over as the shortstop next season, started a huge double play in the third inning and had four assists.
“They’re special,” Coach Don Furnald said. “Their bond and how they play on defense is amazing.”
Said Tyler: “It means everything. Honestly, this could be my last game with him. It’s God’s plan. Winning a championship with him is awesome. You can’t have it any better.”
Etiwanda (27-3) won its 13th consecutive game. The Eagles came into the playoffs known for their hitting, but it was pitching that delivered a title. Junior Tyler Bardowell came in from the bullpen with two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the fourth and got a strikeout on three pitches. He ended up throwing one-hit ball over the final 31⁄3 innings.
Much credit also goes to catcher Chris Jimenez, who called every pitch for Etiwanda pitchers this season. Watch out for the Eagles next season with Bardowell, sophomore pitcher Marcus Johnson and Cody Freeman all returning.
In the Division 7 game in Riverside, Arrowhead Christian defeated Canoga Park Faith Baptist, 14-2. Josh Ferreri had two hits and three RBIs.
In Division 7 softball in Irvine, Sun Valley Village Christian defeated Santa Ynez, 7-4. Freshmen Ally Melgar and Mackenzie Hoffman each hit two-run home runs.
PALM DESERT starting pitcher Jeremiah Estrada gets tangled up with catcher Anthony Boetto as they reach for a foul ball in their game against Etiwanda in their Division 2 title game at Dodger Stadium.
EL TORO players channel their inner divers as they celebrate a championship at Dodger Stadium. The Chargers won their first Division 1 title in nine years.