LAKE ELSINORE – "I joined you in the club," Shane Borowski exclaimed as he and Steve Barrett bear-hugged each other late Saturday afternoon.
Borowski indeed joined a select group of Ocean View High baseball coaches who have led their teams to a CIF Southern Section championship.
On a hot day in Lake Elsinore, Ocean View scored single runs in the second and third innings to take the lead, then rode out the final four innings, to come away with a 2-1 victory over Bonita of La Verne to win the Division III championship at Storm Stadium.
Barrett was the first Ocean View coach to guide the program to a section title, doing so by defeating a La Quinta (Westminster) team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation at Dodger Stadium in 1998.
In 2005, an Aaron Kavanagh-coached team won the school's second title.
That's three section titles in 13 seasons for the school.
Barrett has been there for each of those triumphs.
"We've put together a great baseball family at Ocean View," Barrett said after the game. "We have nice facilities and good, dedicated ballplayers who pass through this program year after year. This is awesome for the school."
When reliever Freddy Sepulveda caught Bonita leadoff hitter Robert Mier looking at strike three to end the game, it set off a mad dash to the mound for all the Seahawks from all angles - dugout, infield and outfield.
The celebratory dog pile was on.
Borowski said the game, played in steady but not-too stifling 95-degree temperatures, flew by.
"It went too fast," he said. "It took only 1-hour, 35-minutes to play but I was holding my breath every step of the way.
"These two guys right here," he continued at his postgame news conference, pointing to starting pitcher Blake Walker on his left, and Sepulveda on his right, "and the whole team, know how to battle and know how to win. These kids did a tremendous job throughout the playoffs."
Walker and Sepulveda combined for another outstanding tag-team pitching performance. This time, they combined to four-hit the Miramonte League champion Bearcats who ended the year 24-5-1. This is a team that had scored 24 runs in its last two playoff games and pounded out 20 hits last Friday in a 13-4 semifinal win over San Gorgonio. And it appeared that Bonita would continue that torrid offensive streak in the first inning when Mier started the game with a single and scored one out later on Evan Highley's base hit to right field for his 26th RBI of the season.
"I felt pretty good but I was a little sore before the game," said Walker who started all five postseason games. "I got a message before the game and it helped."
"He got it from our trainer, who is my wife," Borowski interjected with a laugh, referring to his wife, Kimberly.
But just as it has in nearly every postseason game - Ocean View gave up the first run in four of five playoff games - the Seahawks got that run back in the bottom of the second.
Blake Hitchcock took the first pitch offered in the bottom of the second by Bonita starter Adam McCreery for a sharp single to right field. He went to second on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run by Timothy Robinson, who singled to open, vast space at second base.
With Nick Schulenburg at the plate, both runners advanced on an errant pick-off attempt by McCreery who tried to get Hitchcock at second. The error put runners at second and third. Hitchcock then grounded out to third but picked up an RBI when Hitchcock scored the tying run on the play.
McCreery got out of the inning without any further damage, however, when he struck out Sepulveda and Travis Sparks-Jackson.
In the Ocean View half of the third, leadoff hitter Colton Johnson took McCreery's first pitch just inside the third base line. The ball went all the way to the corner in left field for a triple.
Walker also took his first pitch for a grounder toward second base but Mier, the Bearcats' second baseman, bobbled the ball on the infield grass.
Johnson hustled home for the go-ahead run and Walker was safe at first.
The Bearcats hit the ball quite well, sending numerous shots deep in the outfield, but couldn't come up with that key hit.
"They're a great hitting team," Borowski said. "Our goal was to serve it up and let our outfield do the rest. This park (Storm Stadium) attributed to our win, for sure, because they really hit the ball well."
Walker exited after fourth innings and left with a two-hitter. Sepulveda also allowed two hits to get another postseason save.
One key sequence for Ocean View came in the top of the fifth when Sepulveda entered the game. He got Brandon Murfett to look at strike three to start the inning but then gave up a double to Bonita's No. 9 hitter, Greg Victoria. But as he's done on several occasions in the postseason, Sepulveda got out of the jam by getting Mier to fly out to deep center field, and then struck out left-handed hitter Matt Gelalich.
Walker came up big on defense in the top of the sixth. After Highley started the inning with a single to right field and Brian Tuttle flew out to right, Walker, now playing shortstop, went deep to his right to snag a grounder by KC Huth that appeared headed for shallow left field.
Walker, however, got to the ball and made a great throw to second to force out Highley on a close play. Walker then mishandled a grounder toward short by Bonita designated hitter Matt Rodriguez but made up for the miscue a batter later when he gathered up a Mark Lindsay grounder at short and threw to Schulenburg at first for the final out of the inning.
The Bearcats went down in order in the top of the seventh and Ocean View, champion of the Golden West League, had its third title secured.
The Seahawks end the year 21-9.
After the game, Borowski said the team and its entourage would find a local restaurant in which to eat and celebrate, but wasn't sure where to go.
"That's one more thing this team needs to do, find a way to get it done, find somewhere to celebrate," he said. "We've done it all through the playoffs, and I think they're up for it one more time. Somehow, the kids will get it done. No matter where we end up, we'll be celebrating."