Chatsworth shuts out Birmingham to win City Open Division baseball title

Chatsworth players form a dogpile on the mound at Dodger Stadium after winning the City Section Open Division championship.
Chatsworth players celebrate their 2-0 win over Birmingham in the City Section Open Division championship game at Dodger Stadium.
(Craig Weston)

Standing on a mound he worshipped, on a field he cherished, senior right-hander Jose Ruedas of Chatsworth couldn’t stop smiling and accepting hugs from teammates after throwing a four-hit shutout to lift the Chancellors past Lake Balboa Birmingham 2-0 in the City Section Open Division championship game Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

“Best day of my life,” Ruedas said.

He struck out six and walked none.

This 16-14 Chatsworth team that was seeded No. 9 out of 12 playoff teams was probably the most unlikely of the Chancellors’ now record 10 City championship teams. There was the 2001 team, led by pitcher Joe Guntz, that went 31-2. There was the 2003 team that finished 33-1 behind pitcher Justin Cassel, who was 15-0. There was the 2007 team, led by Mike Moustakas, who hit 24 home runs.

How do you explain the Chancellors of 2022?

Call it the Alvarado touch. Marcus Alvarado, the second-year head coach, learned from his father, Manny, who won five City titles coaching at Granada Hills Kennedy.

“I picked my dad’s brain last night and he told me to relax,” Alvarado said.

The Chancellors played flawless defense, put down some bunts at opportune times and hopped on the back of their ace pitcher, Ruedas, who said his lifelong dream was to pitch at Dodger Stadium. He never let the moment become too big for himself or teammates.

“I did have some nervousness as I stepped onto the field,” Ruedas said. “Then our coach said, ‘Stay here until it feels like any other field.’”

Ruedas put some grass and dirt in his back pocket, then went to work. Birmingham, seeded No. 2, offered one threat all day. Only in the second inning, when Birmingham put runners on first and second bases after an infield single and hit batter, did the Patriots make Ruedas sweat. He proceeded to get two strikeouts and a pop out.

“He wanted the ball and was determined,” Alvarado said.

The Chancellors scored their first run in the third inning on a bases-loaded hit batter that was set up by an error on a bunt and a bunt single. Another run came home in the sixth on an infield single by Ryan Herrera and throwing error. First baseman Jonathan Cerda made a highlight catch for Chatsworth in the sixth, tracking down a fly ball with his back to home plate.

Chatsworth's Ryan Herrera takes a swing during the Open Division title game at Dodger Stadium.
Chatsworth’s Ryan Herrera makes contact as the Chancellors win their record 10th City Section title with a 2-0 win at Dodger Stadium.
(Craig Weston)

It’s doubtful anyone is going to compare this City championship team to any of former coach Tom Meusborn’s eight championship teams, but Alvarado said, “It’s a team that will always be remembered as a great Chatsworth team because we won that 10th title.”

Division I
Garfield 5, Harbor City Narbonne 3: Ace pitcher Anthony Cardenas was wondering whether he’d ever get in the game at Dodger Stadium. After 6 2/3 innings, he was finally called upon Saturday afternoon to get the final out with the tying runs on base. More than 2,000 Garfield fans, who had been chanting “East L.A.,” rose to their feet.

Mario Lopez of Narbonne didn’t make it easy. He sent a Cardenas pitch to deep right field.

“At first, my heart dropped a little,” Cardenas said, “but once I saw my outfielder go back slowly, it was good.”

Demien Flores-Munoz made the catch just in front of the warning track, starting a Garfield victory celebration in the City Section Division I final, Garfield’s first championship since 1997.