Bernardo Zavala's home run lifts Bishop Amat over Lakeside El Capitan, 2-1

The ball kept going and going until it hit the middle of the black screen high above the fence in center field at Cal State Fullerton, 410 feet from the plate.

It was a prodigious two-run home run by catcher Bernardo Zavala of La Puente Bishop Amat in the fourth inning and helped lift the Lancers to a 2-1 victory over Lakeside El Capitan on Wednesday in a semifinal game of the Hard 9 National Classic.

"It was a two-strike at-bat, and I threw my hands out there and got it good," Zavala said.

It was the 19th consecutive victory for Bishop Amat after opening the season with consecutive defeats. The Lancers earned a spot in Thursday's 7 p.m. final at Fullerton against Anaheim Esperanza, which defeated Florida IMG in the other semifinal, 9-2.

Senior Ryan Serrato threw 42/3 scoreless innings in relief to pick up the victory. He struck out six and gave up one hit. He was at his best during a pressure-filled sixth inning when El Capitan had a runner on third base with one out. That's when Serrato struck out the next two batters to preserve the lead.

What's impressive about Bishop Amat's winning streak is that the Lancers don't have a true No. 1 pitcher. They've had eight pitchers win games this season and 11 players throw on the mound. It's pitching by committee, and it's working.

"No one is actually the best pitcher," Serrato said. "We work as a staff. One guy needs help, another guy will come in and pick him up. That's how our staff works. Do your job one pitcher at a time and one out at a time."

Bishop Amat handed a rare defeat to El Capitan junior Troy Conyers, a Stanford commit who helped the under-16 U.S. national team win a gold medal last fall in at the Pan-Am AA Youth Championships in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico. Conyers struck out seven and gave up four hits.

"He made one mistake, and Zavala was able to capitalize on it," Coach Andy Nieto said. "There wasn't many pitches he missed on. I'm proud of my guys for finding a way to grind it out."

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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