SECTION 1-A FINAL : Julian’s Title Is Second in 3 Years
The leading exports of Julian’s Travis Denmark had been home runs, hits and an 85-m.p.h. fastball.
But early in Wednesday’s San Diego Section 1-A baseball championship game--won by Julian, 5-2, over Midway Baptist--Denmark turned to something else.
“Once he established that breaking ball around the fourth inning, that was it,” Midway Baptist Coach Jerry Webb said.
Indeed, the vicious curve kept Patriot hitters off-balance and off base through the middle innings at Grossmont College. After allowing three hits and two runs in the first two innings primarily using his fastball, Denmark retired 12 in a row and 16 of the last 18 batters.
It also enabled Julian (20-6) to win its second 1-A title in three years.
Denmark (10-4) finished with a four-hitter and nine strikeouts, raising his county-leading total to 158 in 96 innings.
As for the home runs (14) and batting average (.625)--both county highs and the second highest single-season totals in section history--those stayed the same. He was walked three times, twice intentionally.
His 40 walks this season set a section record that had stood since 1976, when Brent Wittmayer took 34.
In three playoff games, Denmark was two for three with a home run and eight walks. He also won two games, striking out 19.
Get the picture? Webb did. He called Denmark one of the three or four best athletes he had seen play in the 1-A division. And Webb has seen nine years of it at Midway Baptist, a tiny Imperial Beach school that completed the best season in its nine-year history.
Of Midway Baptist’s 31 boys, 26 played baseball. Fifteen on the varsity that finished 21-4. The graduating class this year is the school’s largest--17. Of those, 10 played baseball and seven have grade-point-averages of 3.25 and above. Three--Tobin Wilkins, Jeff Moore and Craig Foster--have 4.0s.
While Midway Baptist was smart enough to walk Denmark three times, it also realized that five other walks contributed to its loss. Steve Smith (8-2) and Wilkins allowed just three hits.
In the first, Smith walked leadoff batter Curtis Delgadillo, Denmark and Graham Koonce. Delgadillo scored on a wild pitch, Denmark on a single by Pat Woods.
“I’ve had problems with my arm the past couple of weeks,” said Smith, a senior transfer from Morse who has accepted a scholarship to The Master’s. “But I don’t want to put the blame on that.”
Midway Baptist tied it, 2-2, in the second with a walk to Matt Ortiz and run-scoring singles by Francisco Ybarra and Chris Mulkey.
Said Julian Coach Carl Focarelli, “I think it was our mistake early. We were telling (Denmark) to come right after them with his fastball.”
In the third, Delgadillo led off again with a walk and stole second. Freshman Frank Stewart followed that with a ground-rule double that hopped the left-field fence.