There was blood on Audelio Camacho's uniform and a bandage above his left eye covered a gash the Lake Balboa Birmingham senior first baseman got when he tried to catch a foul ball at Dodger Stadium and crashed over the padded railing into the stands.
He was taken to a first-aid station and missed the final out of Birmingham's 6-3 victory over Chatsworth in the City Section Division I championship game Saturday afternoon. As he walked back onto the field during player introductions, fans in the stands started cheering. Teammates greeted him with hugs.
His effort represented the all-out determination displayed by the Patriots (19-14) in their successful journey to win their first championship since 1969.
"The grittiness of our guys to not give up was unbelievable," Coach Matt Mowry said.
Despite a team batting average of .217, the Patriots came through when it counted. Freshman Justin Rorick had an RBI triple to break a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning and added a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Victor Robles contributed an RBI single in the sixth. Ray Ruvalcaba had an RBI double in the fourth. Ryan Mendoza had an RBI single in the seventh.
Pitching has been Birmingham's strength, and its junior stars delivered in the clutch. Jonathan Russomano retired 11 consecutive batters to start the game and allowed four hits, striking out six and walking none in 5 2/3 innings. Rodriguez, who won two games in the playoffs, got the save, bailing the Patriots out of a bases loaded situation in the sixth. He got a fly out to end an inning in which the Chancellors (28-6-1) scored two runs to close to on a throwing error.
Chatsworth freshman Tommy Palomera pitched well, retiring the first nine batters and giving up two hits in 51/3 innings.
Afterward, there was Camacho walking back down the stands and out the same door down the right-field line he had crashed into trying to catch a foul ball. He held his head high as fans clapped with each step.
"I thought I had a chance," he said.
Birmingham made the most of its chance.
"Amazing," Rodriguez said of the moment the umpire called strike three to end the game.
Afterward, Chatsworth's Coach Curtis Scott told his team he was resigning after one season as coach to return to Moorpark College as an assistant.