The Seahawks are back.
Ocean View will play Saturday in the CIF Southern Section baseball championship game for the first time in five years. On Tuesday, the Seahawks reserved a spot in the Division III title game by defeating visiting Gahr, 7-3.
"It's crazy to even think about it. I'm speechless," said Ocean View's Blake Walker, who got the pitching win Tuesday. "This is a special time for our team and we're so excited to be playing for a CIF championship."
Walker, now 8-0, was more than effective against Gahr, the second-place team from the San Gabriel Valley League. He threw into the sixth inning before Seahawks Coach Shane Borowski pulled and replaced him with reliever Freddy Sepulveda.
The move came after Gahr's Michael Lugo tagged Walker for a two-run home run to draw the Gladiators to within 5-3 with one out in the sixth.
Sepulveda then did was he does best — shut down the opponent. He struck out two of the first three batters he faced to get out of the inning.
Walker exited with a three-hitter. He struck out three, walked one and hit a batter.
He has started all four of Ocean View's playoff games, winning two of them.
Sepulveda was credited with the second-round win May 25 over Bell Gardens and last Friday's 6-3 upset of top-seed Beckman. He also has one save in the postseason.
"We planned to remove Blake before the (sixth) inning but when we got a few insurance runs in the fifth, we decided to keep him in there," Borowski said. "I thought Blake did a great job. He gave up that homer but he had done an outstanding job in keeping them (Gahr) down for most of the game.
"And Freddy, well, he was unbelievable. He was his usual self and shut them down the rest of the game."
The win sends Golden West League champion Ocean View (21-9) on to Saturday's Division III final in Lake Elsinore (Storm Stadium) where the Seahawks will meet Bonita.
The Bearcats, champions of the Miramonte League, routed San Andreas League champ San Gorgonio, 13-4, in Tuesday's other semifinal game.
"This is unbelievable," Borowski said of Ocean View's first trip to a division final since 2005.
The program has won a section title in its only two other finals appearances. In addition to winning the 2005 championship, the school won its first baseball title in 1998.
"This is a group of players who really play as one," he continued. "They love playing together. It's a group of kids who are have taken on roles that they aren't accustomed to.
"For instance, Blake Walker has been our main starter this year because Freddy (Sepulveda) was injured early in the year and only returned to our line-up seven weeks ago. Blake is normally is a middle infielder. Another is Colton Johnson who has also pitched for us and has gotten us through some tough times and helped us win a (league) championship. Then there's sophomore Timmy Robinson who has never caught before, yet he's done a tremendous job for us behind the plate. Really, this is a very special team."
Ocean View never trailed Tuesday, thanks to Nick Schulenburg, a three-year varsity player who hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning.
Schulenburg, a junior known affectionately by his teammates as, "The Mule," drove a 1-0 pitch deep beyond the fence in left field, at about the .330 mark. His blast, which came with two out, brought in Kevin Nance who opened the Ocean View second with a double.
Nance's two-bagger was Ocean View's first hit of the game.
"After that first pitch, I was seeing it," Schulenburg said of the inside fastball that he took for his fifth home run of the year. "It felt good when I hit it."
Gahr responded with a run in the top of the third on an RBI single by Alex Hernandez to pull to within 3-1 but the Gladiators (20-11) could get no closer. That's because Ocean View pulled away two innings later, getting three runs in the bottom of the fifth to expand its lead to 5-1.
In the fifth, Johnson started the inning with a single and later scored on Walker's infield grounder to make it 3-1. Blake Hitchcock drove in the final two runs of the frame when his one bounce, high-hop grounder launched over the head of Gahr third baseman Marcus Tomlin and bounded into shallow left-field. Hitchcock's hit brought in Walker and pinch runner Andrew Medrano.
After Lugo's two-run homer in the top of the sixth, Ocean View got those two runs back in the bottom of the inning when Aaron Delgado's single straight up the middle scored Johnson from second and Nance's second double of the game scored Delgado.
The Seahawks took a 7-3 lead into the seventh.
There, Sepulveda send the Gladiators down in order and wrapped up the game by getting lead-off hitter Daniel Lack to strike out.
"It's an exciting time for Ocean View baseball," Borowski said. "We are really excited to be playing for a CIF championship Saturday."
Borowski said he wasn't sure who would get the start on the mound Saturday. He'll have his choice.
"We'll probably draw for a hat for that," he joked.
Bonita comes into at 24-4-1 overall and has outscored its four previous playoff opponents by a combined 29-7, including a 24-5 margin in its last two games. The Bearcats racked up 20 hits in Tuesday's semifinal win over San Gorgornio (24-5).
If you think Ocean View is excited to be in its first final in five years, imagine how the Bearcats feel: Saturday's finals appearance will be the first for the Bonita program since 1951.
Ocean View had reached Tuesday's semifinals by knocking off No. 1-seed Beckman, 6-3, in a quarterfinal round game Friday that snapped the Patriots' 24-game win streak. The Seahawks capitalized on five Beckman errors to score six unearned runs. They scored three runs in the seventh inning to break a 3-3 tie. Nance's RBI single gave Ocean View the go-ahead run and Schulenburg's sacrifice RBI and Travis Sparks-Jackson's RBI, bases-loaded walk, accounted for the other two runs.
The Patriots had lost just one game entering last Friday's quarterfinal game and had outscored its previous two playoff opponents, 27-5. They ended their year at 27-2.
Softball Marina and host Santa Margarita needed extra innings to decide their Division I quarterfinal battle May 27 and the Sunset League champion Vikings, who rallied from a three-run deficit to take the lead, lost, 6-5, in eight innings.
Santa Margarita got the win when ace pitcher Amy Letourneau iced her 13th win of the season with a two-out single in the bottom of the eight that drove in the deciding run.
The Vikings committed two errors in the inning.
Marina was down, 3-0, after the Mustangs' Danny Doucette clubbed a three-run home run in the bottom of the third. Undaunted, the Vikings scored five runs over the next two innings off Letourneau who came into the game 12-0.
Marina (22-9) responded with three runs in the top of the fourth to tie the score. The big blow in the inning was a two-run double by Sandy Simmons. The Vikings took their first lead in the top of fifth on RBIs by Kristen Struett and Ariel Tedesco. But Santa Margarita evened the score in the bottom-half of the inning when Meghan Harman hit a two-run home run.
Golden West League champion Ocean View also saw its season end in a May 27 quarterfinal round loss to Channel League champ Buena. The teams staged a 13-inning battle Division 4 ultimately won by the Bulldogs, 2-1, when Allie Eason stole home in the top of the 13th.
Senior Holli Floetker gave another outstanding pitcher performance for the Seahawks whose offense left base runners stranded throughout the contest. Floetker nearly won the game for the Seahawks in the bottom of the 13th when, with a runner at second, she sent a shot ball to center-field. The shot, however, was back-handed for the out by the Bulldogs' Danielle Markmann.