Championship worthy

HB Independent

"I joined you in the club," Shane Borowski said 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 team to a CIF Southern Section championship.

That membership now stands at three.

On a hot day in Lake Elsinore on Saturday, Ocean View scored single runs in the second and third innings to take the lead, then rode its established pitching formula and outstanding defensive play over the final four innings to a 2-1 victory against Bonita of La Verne to win the Division 3 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 at Angel Stadium.

Now it's three section titles in 13 seasons for the school, and Barrett has been present for each of the 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 lead-off hitter Robert Mier looking at strike three to end the game, it set off a mad dash to the mound for Seahawks from all angles: the dugout, infield and outfield.

The celebratory dog pile was on.

Borowski said the game, played in 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."

Blake Walker and Sepulveda combined for yet 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 June 1 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 single to right field, who recorded his 26th run batted in of the season.

But that was it for the frustrated Bearcats, who continually put the ball in play offensively but couldn't get that key hit or score again.

"I felt pretty good, but I was a little sore before the game," said Walker, who started all five postseason games. "I got a massage 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 (21-9) 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 by Bonita junior starter Adam McCreery for a sharp single to right field. He went to second on a perfectly executed hit-and-run by Timmy Robinson, who sent a single through an open gap between first and 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. Schulenburg then grounded out to third but picked up the RBI when Hitchcock scored the tying run on the force at first. 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, lead-off hitter Colton Johnson placed McCreery's first pitch just inside the third base line. Johnson's hit traveled all the way to the corner in left field for a triple. Walker also took his first pitch for a grounder toward second 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.

"He (McCreery) was pitching me away and I was just waiting to find that one pitch," Johnson said of his triple. "It felt great when I made contact.

"It's unbelievable to win a championship, something I thought I'd never do as a sophomore. But we had such a great group of guys on this team and we have great chemistry."

Walker exited after four innings and left with a two-hitter. Sepulveda also allowed two hits to get another postseason save.

One key pitching 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, then struck out left-handed hitter Matt Gelalich.

A key defensive sequence in the top of the sixth was highlighted by Walker.

After Highley started the inning for Bonita with a single to right field and Brian Tuttle flew out to right, Walker — now playing at short — went deep to his right to snag a grounder by KC Huth that appeared headed for left field. Walker then made a great throw to second to force out Highley on a close play. On the next play, Walker mishandled a grounder by Bonita designated hitter Matt Rodriguez but made up for the miscue a batter later when he gathered up a Mark Lindsay grounder and thew 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 it's third section title secured.

By winning the 2010 title, Walker and Robinson were able to join their older brothers as CIF baseball champions at Ocean View. Walker's brother, Jason, a third baseman, and Robinson's brother, Alex Burnett, — who pitched in the title game five years ago — played on Ocean View's 2005 CIF championship team.

Coincidently, when Ocean View won its third CIF title Saturday, Burnett, now a pitcher with the Minnesota Twins, got his first major league against the Chicago White Sox.

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