Expectations are always high at Chatsworth High, yet in his first season Coach Curtis Scott has the Chancellors right where they are accustomed to being: in the Los Angeles City Section championship game.
Garrett Kueber scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Sam Shaikin and turned the game-ending double play on a safety squeeze as fifth-seeded Chatsworth survived a scare from ninth-seeded Palisades, winning 3-2 on Tuesday afternoon at USC's Dedeaux Field to clinch a spot in the Division I final Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
With one out in the top of the seventh, pitcher Tommy Palomera fielded Zach Liebenson's bunt and tossed high and wide to Kueber covering first. The senior second baseman stretched to keep his foot on the bag and threw home to catcher Jake Ryan just in time to tag Palisades' Josh Holmes, who was trying to score from third base. Umpires conferred immediately after the play but didn't overturn the call.
"On the bunt, my foot was on the bag and I knew I had time to make a good throw to the plate," Kueber said.
Tyler Ryan drew a bases-loaded walk to force home the Chancellors' first run, in the third inning, and Jeryd Reuss hit a score-tying single in the fifth for Chatsworth (28-5-1), which left the bases loaded twice without scoring.
Palisades (18-13) took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on a run-scoring triple by Cade Hulse and a groundout by Harrison McElroy.
"We don't panic at the plate and for the past month we've been swinging at strikes," Scott said. "If we draw a walk, that's OK. We didn't take Palisades lightly. They beat El Camino Real and they could've easily beaten us. Fortunately, there's no clock in this game. You play to the final out and fortunately we found a way to win."
Chatsworth won its last City title in 2009 and lost in the final in 2011 and 2012.
Birmingham assured that a team from the San Fernando Valley will win the City title for the 41st time in the last 42 seasons by upsetting second-seeded Harbor City Narbonne, 3-1, in the other semifinal behind a seven-hitter by Adrian Rodriguez.
Adrian Padilla led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, but after two fly outs he was caught trying to steal second, sending the Patriots into a wild celebration of their first trip to the City's upper division final since 1969.
"The crowd was standing and cheering and this is a great feeling," Rodriguez said. "I'm a big Dodger fan, so going there is a great feeling for me, even though I probably won't play. My fastball, my curve and my changeup were all working and throwing strikes really helped. We beat Chatsworth the last time out, so we'll have a boat-load of confidence going into that game."
Ryan Mendoza scored the first run for sixth-seeded Birmingham (18-14) on a hit by Audelio Camacho in the second inning. Eduardo Rosales scored on a bases-loaded walk and Camacho scored on a wild pitch in the fourth to make it 3-0.
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