Seeing 6-foot-8 pitcher Sean Reynolds of Redondo attempt to hug his teammates after their 2-1 victory over Irvine Woodbridge in the Southern Section Division 3 championship game on Saturday at San Manuel Stadium was comedy at its best.
One teammate tried to lift up another. Another teammate got on his tiptoes. Center fielder Matt Hanniff gave it his best effort.
“I was hugging his hips,” Hanniff said.
Reynolds (11-0), a Rice signee who is expected to be taken in next week’s amateur draft, earned every hug. He struck out four, walked two and gave up five hits. He scored the winning run in the fifth inning after a leadoff double, followed by an RBI single by Danny Zimmerman.
His improvement as a pitcher and hitter has been important for a team that finished 31-2 and has every right to be considered the No. 1 team in Southern California after winning its second consecutive Division 3 title.
Redondo Coach Jeff Baumback was an assistant on Long Beach Wilson’s 2007 team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation, and he said, “This team is as good.”
Woodbridge pitcher Jake Larson walked six and gave up four hits in defeat.
West Covina South Hills got a tiebreaking sacrifice fly from Chris Moya in the top of the seventh, then a double play to end the game en route to winning its sixth Southern Section championship with a 4-3 win over Redlands East Valley.
The Huskies had a 2-0 lead, fell behind, 3-2, in the bottom of the sixth, then scored two runs in the seventh. “We do make things difficult, but the sign of a good team is when you’re down and come back,” said sophomore pitcher Brandon Dieter, who gave up three hits in five innings.
Junior pitcher Ashton Goddard of Laguna Beach began the Division 4 championship game against Fontana Kaiser so excited that on his first pitch, he hit leadoff hitter Oscar Rocha. Then he gave up a single. Soon the bases were loaded.
“We had a chance to jump all over him,” Kaiser Coach Michael Spinuzzi said.
Goddard, a Utah commit, settled down. He got a strikeout to end the inning and finished with a five-hit shutout to lead Laguna Beach past Kaiser, 2-0. It was the Breakers’ first championship.
“It’s an incredible feeling to bring this trophy back to our city,” UCLA-bound catcher Will McInerny said.
McInerny was an unsung catalyst. He drove in the first run on a groundout in the first inning. He also was the leader behind the plate in keeping Goddard focused and relaxed. They’ve known each other since playing Little League together.
“We’ve built this bond,” he said.
Zak Kovacic gave Laguna Beach (20-12) an insurance run in the fifth, stealing home on an 0-2 count after getting a sign from Coach Mike Bair. They had been practicing the play all week.
Brett Super threw the shutout to help Newport Harbor Sage Hill win its first championship with a 9-0 win over Irvine Crean Lutheran.