Birmingham defeats Carson for emotional City Section Open Division title win

Birmingham starting pitcher Kaden Taque lifts the championship trophy while celebrating a 3-1 win over Carson.
Birmingham starting pitcher Kaden Taque lifts the championship trophy while celebrating a 3-1 win over Carson in the City Section Open Division title game Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

With tears in his eyes and emotion in his voice, Matt Mowry kept receiving hugs and embraces under the sunshine of a pristine Dodger Stadium. A school year that started with the Lake Balboa Birmingham baseball coach having to bury his wife, Amy, after she died of cancer last September ended Saturday afternoon with his team delivering a City Section Open Division championship with a 3-1 win over Carson.

“I wish I was able to hug her,” Mowry said. “I’ll settle for my daughter right now.”

There were initial doubts whether Mowry would coach this season. He wondered if he should devote his attention to his teenage son Nolan and daughter Kyla. In the end, with their support, he returned, and Patriots won their fifth title under Mowry and eighth overall.


Leading the way was California-bound pitcher Kaden Taque, whose toughness and poise prevented a determined Carson team from breaking through. Taque threw 102 pitches, striking out eight, walking one and giving up five hits.

“Keep my mind calm, keep my body calm and never let the moment get too big,” Taque said.

Taque has grown up in the last two months. It was March 28 when he hit rock bottom, getting only one out in an 11-5 loss to Granada Hills. Since then, he has gone 7-0 with 67 strikeouts while giving up three earned runs.

“I was doubting myself,” Taque said. “It was a turning point.”

An emotional Birmingham coach Matt Mowry speaks with the mother of his late wife, Amy.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

A balk gave Marine League champion Carson a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Birmingham evened the score at 1-1 in the fourth on an RBI single from Edgar Leon. The Patriots took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on an RBI single from JP Dalumpines. The moment produced laughter in the Birmingham dugout because Mowry, coaching third, fell while backpedaling and waving home Chris Woods.

“I’ll be more remembered for that,” Mowry said.

Said Woods: “I was,’Is he OK?’ My mouth was wide open because I was trying not to laugh.”

Carson, with seven underclassmen in its starting lineup, battled the Patriots until the end, indicating their future is very bright.

“I feel I competed all seven innings,” Taque said.

Sophomore Cris Martinez had two doubles for Birmingham and drove in an insurance run in the sixth.

Sylmar wins Division I title

Victor Carrera of Sylmar drove the ball on a 2-and-2 count with the bases loaded between the first baseman and second baseman in a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the seventh inning of a scoreless game against Granada Hills Kennedy at Dodger Stadium.

Suddenly, there was bedlam from Sylmar fans and players. The game was over. Sylmar won 1-0 as Adrian Jaime touched home plate after Carrera’s single, giving the Spartans the City Section Division I championship, their first since 1980.

“It’s one of the craziest moments of my life,” the junior shortstop said.


The inning started with Jaime striking out, but the ball went to the backstop, allowing him to reach first. That’s all the Spartans needed to move into position to score against left-hander Oscar Patron, who struck out five and walked two. Sylmar’s Hector Martinez sacrificed Jaime to second. After an intentional walk, Cesar Morales singled to load the bases, setting the moment for Carrera

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight and who was going to break first,” said Sylmar coach Ray Rivera, whose team lost to Kennedy 1-0 and beat Kennedy 3-2 in Valley Mission League games.

Sylmar’s Matthew Benzor gave up five hits while striking out five and walking one to pick up the win. He escaped the third and fourth innings with strikeouts to keep Kennedy scoreless.

Kennedy received a sensational throw from right fielder Santiago Torres to prevent Sylmar from scoring in the sixth inning from second base on a play at the plate.

Jaime is the third brother to play baseball at Sylmar for Rivera but the first to win a championship.

“I’m going to brag about it for sure, but it’s all in love,” he said.