Alex Ballesteros is making it difficult for teams to prevent Birmingham from winning a third consecutive City Section baseball championship. On Wednesday, he delivered a walk-off three-run double to beat San Fernando. On Friday, his arm and bat led the Patriots to a 5-3 win over No. 1-seeded San Pedro in the Open Division quarterfinals.
Birmingham, which had struggled in West Valley League play, is now one win away from playing at Dodger Stadium. The Patriots will play Sun Valley Poly on Thursday at 7 p.m. at USC in the semifinals.
Ballesteros, usually Birmingham’s starting shortstop, pitched until being removed with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh. Gavino Rosales came in and gave up a two-run single to Josh Duarte but got the final out on a fly ball.
“It’s playoff times. It’s what we live for,” Birmingham coach Matt Mowry said. “You have to go out there and represent the West Valley League, and the kids came ready to play. Ballesteros threw great. We knew he got a little tired late. He was very efficient.”
Ballesteros had an RBI double. Freshman Domenik Cervantes contributed a two-run single. Albert Garcia had two RBIs. Left fielder Isaiah Arellano made several tough catches under swirling wind conditions.
No. 2-seeded El Camino Real pulled out a 1-0 win over Kennedy when Joey Klein got an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. It was quite a pitching duel between Cole Kitchen of ECR and junior Vincent Esparza of Kennedy. Kitchen struck out eight and gave up two hits.
No. 4-seeded Poly advanced with a 3-2 win over Cleveland. The Parrots turned the ball over to ace pitcher Elias Galaviz, and he delivered, striking out eight. He refused to let Cleveland back into the game, striking out the final two batters of the game.
No. 3-seeded Palisades defeated Granada Hills 2-0 behind pitcher Lucas Braun. Palisades will play El Camino Real on Thursday at 4 p.m. at USC. The game was delayed one hour because of bees in center field. Granada Hills loaded the bases in the seventh but reliever Wyatt Loncar got out of the jam.