High School Baseball: Barons clinch Sunset League title

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — When a line drive was snagged on the right side of the Fountain Valley infield late Friday afternoon, it set off a wild celebration.

Not only did the out put the final touch on Fountain Valley's 7-3 victory over rival Edison, it made certain that the Barons were undisputed champions in Sunset League baseball.

It was the program's 10th Sunset title in school history, and first since 2002.

It was only fitting that the Barons, both on the playing field for the final out, and in the dugout, made a mad dash for the pitcher's mound to take part in a celebratory dog pile.

No one was injured, but everyone involved felt a sense of pride.

"This is awesome," Fountain Valley first baseman, senior Jordan Lucio, said after high-fives, hugs and handshakes. "This is such a great group of guys and it's a lot of fun to be on this team. Everyone did their part to help us win league."

The Barons, ranked third in CIF Southern Section Division 1, entered the week with a three-game lead on second-place Marina with four games to play. They earned a co-championship when they knocked off Edison, 5-4, on Wednesday, then won it outright with Friday's four-run triumph.

Fountain Valley, which swept Edison, 3-0 in the league series, takes a 12-1 league record into next week's two-game series with Marina.

It's the final week of the regular season.

"It is awesome," first-year coach Deric Yanagisawa said, reiterating Lucio's sentiments. "These kids deserve a lot of credit for what they have accomplished. All 18 kids contributed to this championship, and I'm really proud of them. Our senior group of kids has been phenomenal all year."

It was Edison which grabbed the early lead. Junior Brian Schales hit a solo home run in the top of the first inning to put the Chargers (11-3, 5-8 in league) in front.

The lead didn't last long.

Fountain Valley (22-3) scored twice in its first at-bat to take the lead for good, then added single runs in the next three innings to extend its advantage to 5-1. The Barons scored runs with two out in both the second and third innings. Daniel Patzlaff's RBI single scored JT Navarro in the second, and Navarro bought home pinch runner Jake Church on a single in the third.

Junior Brock Lundquist made it a 5-1 game when he homered to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Edison got a run back in the top of the fifth when Parker Quenneville hit a lead-off single and later scored when Schales grounded out to second base, making it 5-2. The Chargers crept to within 5-3 in the sixth when Dylan Sneed scored on a balk call against Edison relief pitcher Scott Schultz.

Schultz took over for starter Hunter Margain (6-0) after the sophomore gave up a lead-off single in the top of the sixth to Jake Lesinski. Schultz finished the game.

Fountain Valley responded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Patzlaff doubled down the third base line to knock in pinch runner Monty Plattner from second, and Patzlaff later scored on a wild pitch to push the lead to 7-3.

Schultz gave up a one-out single to Connor McCollum in the seventh but then got Danny Maguire to ground out to second, the same spot where Schales next would hit the line drive out that ended the game.

"This was a typical game for us all year," Edison Coach Steve Lambright said. "We weren't outplayed. We just didn't do the little things needed to win. We didn't make the plays we needed to. We didn't make the pitches when we needed to, and we weren't getting the key at-bats that we needed.

"Credit Fountain Valley. They did do all the little things, and they've done that all year. That's why they are Sunset League champions."

Edison still is in the hunt for a CIF playoff berth. Another team also vying for a posteseason berth is the Chargers' final opponent, Huntington Beach. The Chargers and Oilers meet in at 3:15 p.m. next Tuesday at Huntington, then play a regular season and league finale at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Edison.

Fountain Valley, meanwhile, plays the first of two games against Marina at home Tuesday. The Barons and Vikings play at Marina Thursday.

Fountain Valley will play both games as Sunset champion.

"Any time you can come out on top in the Sunset League, against teams and coaches of this caliber, it's pretty special, " Yanagisawa said. "It feels good to be on top, but we still have plenty left to play for."


Twittter: @MikeSciacca

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