Southern Section 2-A Baseball : Three Hits Are Enough for Diamond Bar, 3-2
Diamond Bar High School made the most of three hits and made the big plays in the infield to win the Southern Section 2-A division championship Saturday night with a 3-2 victory over Mission Viejo at Blair Field in Long Beach.
A crowd of 3,187 saw the Brahmas scored all of their runs in the second inning as their No. 9 batter, Scott Faurot, provided the key hit with a two-run double that soared over the head of left fielder Ray Reinders.
Top-seeded Diamond Bar, which finished with a 27-2 record, also ended the South Coast League’s domination of the 2-A division. Capistrano Valley won the championship in 1983 and Laguna Hills captured the title last year.
Mission Viejo, which ended the year with a 20-8 mark, outhit Diamond Bar, 6-3, but failed to get an extra-base hit until Reinders lined a triple down the right-field line in the sixth inning.
Diamond Bar starter Rich Gonzales (11-1) kept his pitches low and let his infield make the plays as Mission Viejo grounded out 15 times. Losing pitcher Sean Campbell (6-4) retired 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced, but Mission Viejo’s sixth-inning rally fell a run short.
Reinders had two hits, drove in a run and scored one, but will likely remember Faurot’s double that sailed over his head for some time.
“I was playing a left-handed hitter (Faurot) at the same depth that I would normally play any left-handed hitter,” Reinders said. “Sean got the ball up and the guy drove it.”
Faurot’s two-out double proved to be the difference after Mission Viejo rallied for two runs in the sixth. Afterward, Faurot called the hit a lucky break.
“He (Reinders) was playing me the same way every team does,” he said. “I’m a pull hitter, but I got an outside pitch, made good contact and got a lucky break.”
Diamond Bar Coach Denis Paul said luck had nothing to do with Faurot’s game winner.
“Scott Faurot may be the best ninth hitter in the CIF,” Paul said. “This has been a team of destiny. Every game this team has had to win, it’s won. Our infield was tremendous and only one ball got through tonight.”
Campbell, who will walk on at the University of California in the fall, said he was tense in the early going as he consistently fell behind hitters through two innings. Gonzales didn’t allow a walk.
“Their pitcher was as good as I’ve seen all year,” Diablo Coach Ron Drake said. “He didn’t walk a batter, which meant we had to earn our runs. I knew they were good coming into the game and they proved that. Their infield made all the plays.”
The most impressive player in the Diamond Bar infield was shortstop Kraig Washington, the grandson of former UCLA running back, Kenny Washington. The junior displayed a strong arm and an equally impressive bat throughout the playoffs.
Washington had a hit and a walk against Mission Viejo and finished with 13 hits in 18 plate appearances with 14 runs batted in five postseason games.
Mission Viejo’s top hitter, Bob Brucato, went hitless in three appearances. The right fielder came into the game with a .450 average and 35 RBIs, but managed to hit only one ball out of the infield. He also went 12-0 as the Diablos’ ace pitcher.
Throughout most of the game, Mission Viejo fans had very little to cheer about. Until the sixth inning, Drake received the biggest cheer of the night when he fielded a sharp grounder from his third base coaching box.
This was a night that Diamond Bar was in control. The school has only been in existence for three years, yet the Brahmas have won four Southern Section titles in football, tennis, softball and now baseball.
Yet despite the Brahmas’ big plays and clutch hits, some of the Mission Viejo players were wondering how Diamond Bar had won as they quietly dressed in the locker room.
“They only got three hits, how can they win with three hits?” Reinders asked.
Said Campbell: “They got three hits, but they also got three walks. They didn’t give us anything and they weren’t about to give the game away. But still, three hits?”