Baseball playoffs: Corona upsets No. 1 Notre Dame in 10 innings

Corona starting pitcher Ethan Schiefelbein delivers a pitch against Notre Dame during a playoff game Friday.
Corona starting pitcher Ethan Schiefelbein gave up five hits and one run in six innings Friday against Notre Dame. Corona won 2-1 in 10 innings.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

With two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, the most improbable of heroes, unsung senior Ethan Hill, delivered a walk-off RBI double to give Corona a 2-1 victory over No. 1-seeded Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Friday in the Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals.

“It’s so surreal. It’s crazy,” Hill said.

When the school year began, Hill was nowhere in coach Andy Wise’s plans. He had played junior varsity last season.

“We didn’t expect him to play a role,” Wise said.

Through summer and fall ball, Hill earned a spot batting No. 9 in the order. He had a walk-off hit to beat Corona Santiago earlier this season and found himself at the plate in the 10th against Levi Sterling, a Notre Dame relief pitcher who had struck out seven and given up one hit in 4 2/3 innings of relief.

With Jared Saldana on first after an infield hit, Hill hit a line drive to left-center field. As the ball rolled to the fence, Saldana rounded second, rounded third and scored without a play at home as the on-deck hitter Anthony Murphy was jumping up and down. Then bedlam erupted. Corona players sprinted from the dugout to celebrate at second base with Hill.


“I knew when I hit it, it was game over,” Hill said. “I wasn’t looking to be a hero. Just hit the ball hard.”

Notre Dame (28-3), the No. 1 team in the Southland for much of the baseball season, didn’t take advantage of numerous scoring opportunities against Corona ace Ethan Schiefelbein, who struck out seven in six innings (106 pitches), and reliever Billy Carlson, who threw three scoreless innings. The only Notre Dame run came in the third on a groundout.

The Knights hoped to make that one run hold up. Starter Justin Lee yielded one hit in the first five innings but hit two batters in the sixth, which led to a score-tying sacrifice fly by catcher Josh Springer against Sterling.

“We had so many chances to score,” Notre Dame coach Tom Dill said. “So many missed opportunities. We didn’t get that hit we needed. I felt we were threatening the whole game. They hung around, and that’s what you don’t want to happen.”

There was tension throughout. Corona has been known for its outstanding pitching (nine shutouts as a staff), while Notre Dame has relied on pitching and defense.

“Man, it was a very exhausting game,” Springer said. “All respect to them. Justin Lee is a heck of a pitcher. Levi Sterling is going to do great things. We’ve had a lot of one-run games. Our team chemistry has been amazing.”

Corona will face defending champion San Juan Capistrano JSerra in Tuesday’s semifinals at Corona. JSerra defeated Chatsworth Sierra Canyon 6-3. Lou Fujiwara had five RBIs for JSerra. No. 2-seeded Santa Margarita also advanced to the semifinals with a 9-4 victory over La Mirada. Blake Balsz hit a home run, and Luke Lavin had three hits. The Eagles will play host to Orange Lutheran, a 6-1 winner over Villa Park.

In Division 2, Calabasas defeated Cerritos Gahr 3-1 behind Jordan Kingston, who threw a complete game. The Coyotes will face host West Covina South Hills, a 2-1 winner over Valencia West Ranch. Encino Crespi advanced to the semifinals with a 7-4 victory over Corona Santiago and will face host San Bernardino Aquinas, a 7-2 winner over Huntington Beach Ocean View.

In Division 3, Westlake and South Torrance were unable to complete their game because of darkness with the score 2-2 after 17 innings. It was resumed Saturday morning at Westlake, and the Warriors won 3-2 in the bottom of the 19th inning on a sacrifice fly from Nolan Johnson.

Notre Dame starter Justin Lee delivers a pitch against Corona on May 12, 2023.
Notre Dame starter Justin Lee delivers a pitch against Corona in the Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals Friday.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)