SOUTHERN SECTION BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP : 3-A : Troy Rallies in Eighth to Defeat Arlington, 7-4, for Championship

Times Staff Writer

It took 25 years, but Troy High School finally claimed a Southern Section championship Saturday by winning the 3-A division baseball title at Dodger Stadium.

The Warriors scored three runs in the eighth inning with two out to beat Arlington, 7-4, as pitcher Chris Robinson capped the winning rally with a two-run double. Troy finished the year at 23-6.

Afterward, Bruce King, the Warriors' coach for the past two seasons, announced that he had resigned. King submitted his resignation last Monday after learning that a teaching position would not be offered to him next year.

"It was a bittersweet week for me," he said. "This was my last game at Troy, and it was a great way to go out."

The Warriors took advantage of three walks in the eighth inning to gain their second straight extra-inning victory in the playoffs. Troy beat John W. North of Riverside, 6-5, in eight innings in the semifinals.

Catcher Mike Pawlawski--who was the game's hitting star with a single, double and triple--led off the inning with a walk and later scored the go-ahead run when David Shirota was walked with the bases loaded by losing pitcher Mark Pratt (11-5).

Robinson, who had gone hitless in four previous appearances, followed with a line drive down the third-base line for a double that scored two more runs, and the celebrating began in the stands.

"I was having a bad day at the plate, but all that matters is that last hit," Robinson said, who improved his record to 14-2. He won four of the Warriors' five playoff games, pitching 16 innings in the last five days.

"No question, Chris Robinson has to be the player of the year," King said. "He had the big hit today and won four playoff games."

Robinson faltered only in the fifth inning when Arlington scored three runs on four consecutive hits. The Lions (21-8) tied the game, 3-3, but Troy regained the lead, 4-3, in the sixth.

Troy third baseman Mike Case hit a towering home run that cleared the 370-foot sign in left field. It was Case's 11th homer of the season, a school record.

"That one silenced the critics who say we play in a little ballpark and some of Mike's homers were cheapies," King said.

But Arlington wasn't finished. The Lions pushed across an unearned run to tie the game again, 4-4, in the sixth inning, and then they had an opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the seventh.

Designated hitter Mark Wensel reached first on an error. Wensel was sacrificed to second but was left stranded when Robinson retired the next two batters.

"I thought when we got the bunt down to get Wensel to second that this was going to be our game," said Gary Rungo, Arlington coach. "The next two kids have gotten clutch hits for us all season. But we couldn't get the key hit."

Robinson, who has signed a national letter of intent to play at Cal State Fullerton next fall, said he began to tire in the seventh but got a second wind.

"When that guy Wensel got to second, I told myself there was no way he was going to score," he said. "Boy, am I tired."

The Troy catcher, Pawlawski, got better with each playoff game, finishing with 11 hits in 18 appearances during the postseason tournament.

"I thought this was my best game of the year," he said. "I felt I improved every playoff game, both offensively and defensively."

Troy, which came into the game with a .401 team batting average, wasted little time swinging the bats.

Jeff Ferren reached first safely when a wild pitch he had swung at for a third strike got past the catcher.

Case, Pawlawski and center fielder Steve Shirley followed with singles to give Troy a quick 2-0 lead. The Warriors padded their lead to 3-0 in the next inning when Shirota drove home teammate John Sliwinski with a base hit.

Meanwhile, Robinson was breezing with one-hitter through four innings when Arlington scored three runs in the fifth to tie the game.

"These kids have a lot of heart and I knew they would come back," Rungo said. "Five years ago, this program was at rock bottom. We went 2-20 that year. We've come a long ways since then.

"But you have to give Troy some credit. They hit my pitcher probably better than any other team we've played this year. They deserve to be the champs."

Even if it was 25 years in the making.

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