Flintridge Prep baseball team surpasses expectations in breakthrough season

GLENDALE — Throughout the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs, Daniel Enzminger found himself involved all over the diamond in some bizarre and extraordinary plays involving the budding Flintridge Prep baseball team.

Enzminger routinely patrolled center field, making several outstanding defensive plays. He also struck out on a wild pitch that allowed the winning run to score in what would be Flintridge Prep’s most improbable victory of the entire season.

Enzminger had the same feeling again Tuesday during Flintridge Prep’s semifinal contest against top-seeded Desert Christian Academy at the Glendale Sports Complex.

Though fourth-seeded Flintridge Prep saw its storybook campaign come to an end with a 12-4 defeat, there was a moment when the Rebels (18-9) had a glimmer of hope after Ezminger made a strong throw home to catcher Dylan Arya to cut down Desert Christian’s Chris Palmer at the plate in the fourth inning.

Flintridge Prep trailed, 7-0, at the time. The Rebels, who shared the Prep League championship for the first time since 1997, appeared to pick themselves up off the dirt following the stellar defensive efforts by Ezminger and Arya.

The Rebels cut the lead to 7-3 in the bottom of the inning on a two-run home run to left by slugger Karlsen Termini. The Rebels then had runners on second and third with one out, but saw the rally cut short when Desert Christian Coach Mark Salazar brought in standout starting pitcher Morgan Earman (he entered the game with a tidy 0.30 earned-run average) in relief to thwart a comeback attempt during the game’s critical juncture.

“We came in at that point thinking we had some hope that we could come back,” Enzminger said. “Defense translates into offense, so I tried to pick the team up.

“We thought we had found our groove once again, but we just ran into a great team. Nobody expected us to even get this far and we came out of a good league. It’s been nothing less than a storybook season.”

The Rebels returned to the semifinals for the first time since 1960, posting postseason victories against Santa Paula, Kern Valley and Crean Lutheran. The Rebels hadn’t won a playoff game since 1999, emphatically ending the 14-year drought.

Under first-year coach Guillermo Gonzalez, the Rebels laid a foundation with a nucleus of promising talent that learned about patience on offense and defense.

“You try to build a foundation in starting a new program,” Gonzalez said. “We have a lot of kids coming back and a great future ahead of us.

“Even today, we felt the momentum jump to us when Daniel made that play at the plate. We’ve come back throughout the playoffs. We scored the runs to cut into their lead. Unfortunately, we gave them back in the next couple of innings.”

Clayton Weirick found himself on both ends of the spectrum during the Rebels’ playoff journey. On Tuesday, Weirick was handed the starting assignment, but struggled against experienced Desert Christian (28-2). The senior allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

In a second-round contest against Kern Valley, Weirick came on in relief and pitched a full seven innings to pick up the victory.

“I threw strikes, but they just hit the ball well,” Weirick said. “Just tip your cap.

“We figured that maybe we could come back again after doing it a couple of times earlier [in the playoffs]. We had nothing to lose. We did a lot of good things this season, like winning league and beating Pasadena Poly two out of three times and getting to the semifinals. It’s something we will remember.”

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