Mission Viejo takes Southern Section Division 2 baseball title

There can’t be a better feeling for a senior high school baseball player than to make it to Dodger Stadium and end the night with a championship dogpile.

So understand the special moment Thursday night for the eight senior starters from Mission Viejo who yelled, laughed and basked in the glory of winning a Southern Section Division 2 championship with a 6-2 victory over Etiwanda.

Mission Viejo started the season ranked No. 1 by The Times, struggled early on and finished second in the Sea View League. But the team put it all together when it mattered most, winning its final seven pressure-filled games and coming away with the first baseball title in school history.

“It’s awesome,” pitcher Willie Kuhl said. “I can’t even describe it, I’m so happy right now. Sixteen seniors on the team just pulling together, juniors and sophomores.”


Kuhl pitched a complete game, giving up four hits. Ryan Raslowsky had two hits. Parker Anderson had a single and triple. Danny Poe had two singles and a successful squeeze bunt.

“We were up and down all year, but we got emotional and played hard at the end,” Coach Chris Ashbach said. “They absolutely stepped up and got it done.”

Best in Division 3

Zack Rivera scored 10 touchdowns last fall for the Southern Division finalist Irvine Beckman football team, but he never felt an adrenaline rush quite like he did after hitting a two-run home run just inside the left-field foul pole at Dodger Stadium in the first inning, helping ignite a 4-1 Division 3 championship victory over Irvine Woodbridge.

“I knew I hit it hard, but I didn’t think it would get out,” the junior third baseman said.

Beckman (25-6), which opened in 2004, won its first baseball title and emerged as one of the top teams in Orange County behind an outstanding class of juniors. Pitcher James Kaprielian (11-1) struck out seven, walked none and gave up four hits. Another junior, shortstop Garret Brown, was flawless in the field.

“This is the best thing in the world,” Kaprielian said of the big league setting. Woodbridge (19-12) lost for the fourth time this season to its Pacific Coast League rival. Ben Wylly pitched five innings, giving up one earned run and three hits. Two errors by the Warriors led to three unearned runs.