Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Baseball: LACES Sticks it to Arleta for LA City D2 Title (6/3/17)

Beckham Ballora (batting) and Jordan Durrell (background) drove in three runs apiece in LACES’ 7-1 victory over Arleta in the LA City Division 2 championship. Photo/Jon Lofdahl

Arleta went into Saturday’s Los Angeles City Section Division 2 championship game as a No. 14 seed. It barely made the postseason, but it ran past the bracket until it finally ran out of gas against an opponent who had been to the final stage before.

Jordan Durrell and Beckham Ballora each drove in three runs to lead fourth-seeded Los Angeles CES to a 7-1 victory over Arleta at Dodger Stadium. It’s third straight CIF-LA City Section title for LACES.

The Unicorns (17-10) stuck it to Arleta (15-18) quickly. In the bottom of the first inning, Christian Gonzalez singled and reached second on a passed ball. Chris Ponce walked, but James Sarantes’ grounder to third erased Gonzalez. Ballora’s RBI single to right field scored Ponce. Sarantes and Ballora both scored on Durrell’s double. The three-run first inning was all pitcher Finn Starzyk needed; he struck out seven on 6.2 innings before being removed because of the pitch count limit.

LACES won the LA City Section Division 2 title at Dodger Stadium with a 7-1 win over Arleta. Photo/Jon Lofdahl

“We worked hard and we worked together,” Durrell said. “Coach told us to be a team player and we just focused on that. We tried to have the biggest season we could with what we have. We don’t have a home field. We just go in and work hard every day.”

It wouldn’t get any better for Arleta pitcher Manny Cardenas, who gave two more runs in the third inning and another two runs in the fifth. Cardenas did knock in Arleta’s only run in the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Max Tapia, but that was all the Mustangs could do off of Starzyk.

“They worked on some of their fundamentals,” Arleta coach Victor Zamora said. “They put the ball in play. They did a great job. We knew we were going to have a tough battle against them. We just didn’t get the job done today. The kids worked hard. I told the seniors, ‘Where do you want to end the school year? Playing the game of baseball at Dodger Stadium.’ They gave it 110 percent and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Ballora’s sacrifice fly scored Gonzalez in the third inning to make it 4-0, and Durrell’s single scored Sarantes for a 5-0 lead.

Beckham Ballora (left) drove in three runs and pitcher Finn Starzyk (right) dominated opposing batters in LACES’ win at Dodger Stadium over Arleta.

Ballora’s double in the fifth inning knocked in Ponce to make it 6-1, and Starzyk’s infield single scored pinch runner Ian Abrash to make it 7-1.

It ended a magical run for Arleta, one in which LACES coach Darryl Washburn could identify.

“We were in that situation three years ago,” Washburn said. “We barely got in. We went in as the 9 seed and worked our way on top. We played them earlier in the year and they’re a tough team when we beat them 4-1. They’re a well-coached team. We just knew if we could come out and execute like we know we could, that we would come out on top.”

Gio Garcia, Danny Castro and Angel Ruiz each got a hit for Arleta, which defied the odds by getting to the finals.

“This is a lifetime experience,” Zamora said. “This is something they can talk about to their kids for the rest of their lives. It was their moment. This team is going to have something to talk about forever. This moment could keep them together and they can talk about this forever.”

Ballora, Durrell and Starzyk each had two hit games for LACES, who for the third straight year are the CIF-LA City Section Champions.

“This feels good,” Durrell said. “We won it despite moving up a division, so I’m happy.”

(NOTE: Report news and notes to So Cal Sidelines editor-in-chief/softball writer Carlos Arias via email (carlos.arias@socalsidelines.com), text (949-606-3602) or Tweet (@SoCalSidelines))

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