Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Baseball: Walnut Pounds Righetti for CIF-SS D3 Championship (6/3/17)

Walnut won the Southern Section Division 3 title with a 13-2 win over Righetti. Photo/Paul Luna

By TONY ARDUINO

Walnut knows what it feels like to play in the CIF Southern Section finals. The program was there just two years ago and the Mustangs bombed against Redondo Union, a 10-0 loss. Coach Paul Acosta remembers it well.

This time around, Walnut gave its fans no doubts as the Mustangs pounded out 15 hits en route to a 13-2 win over Santa Maria Righetti on Saturday in the CIF-SS Division 3 Championship at The Plex in Riverside.

“It feels awesome,” an excited Acosta said, finally able to replace the nightmare with a dream season. “We were here two years ago and to now be on the other side, well … it feels good. I wouldn’t want to go to battle with any other group of boys.”

Walnut leadoff hitter Ruben Hernandez singled and scored as the Mustangs applied pressure right away in their 13-2 championship victory over Righetti. Photo/Paul Luna

The Mustangs wasted no time, scoring in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Ruben Hernandez started the game with a single and James Arakawa followed with a walk. After a double play, New Mexico commit Dylan Zavala singled to the opposite field, scoring Hernandez and staking Walnut a 1-0 lead.

Walnut rallied again in the second with two outs and some help from Righetti’s defense. Cal Poly signee Brandon Godoy scored on a single by Adam Rodriguez. Godoy was going to be held up at the third but an error allowed him to  score. After another error, two batters later, Arakawa singled home two more runs for a 4-0 lead.

“We’ve been practicing all week going the other way,” said Arakawa, a junior. “Their pitcher (Mitchell Bagby) was working away and I just stuck with our game plan and went with the pitch.”

Arakawa was in the middle of the scoring most of the afternoon and finished the game with three hits and four RBIs.

The Mustangs continued the offensive onslaught in the fifth as they batted around and scored six more times, highlighted by five straight singles to left field, giving the Mustangs a commanding 11-0 lead. Walnut pressured the Warriors often with five stolen bases, two on delays.

Jacob Garcia got more than enough offense in Walnut’s 13-2 victory over Santa Maria Righetti in the Southern Section Division 3 championship. Photo/Paul Luna

The recipient of all the offense was left-hander Jacob Garcia. The senior kept the Warriors off balance with his curveball all afternoon and allowed only four hits while striking out six in 5.2 innings of work.

“My curveball is my best pitch,” an almost speechless Garcia said. “It’s always been my go-to pitch and it was on today.”

Righetti’s lone scoring rally came in the sixth when Bagby drove in Arizona commit Mattew Sauer with a double. Later in the inning, Joseph Boivin singled to right scoring Bagby, and chasing Garcia from the game. Dylan Needham came on for the final four outs.

Walnut added two more runs in the seventh.  The 13 runs and 15 hits were a playoff high for the Mustangs.

“It felt great to get all those runs,” Garcia said. “It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could just go out there and throw strikes.”

For Walnut, the Hacienda League champion, this is its first CIF-SS championship in its third attempt (1982 and 2015).

“I can’t describe the feeling,” Arakawa said.  I was on the team two years ago that didn’t win it and this feels so good to come out on top.”

(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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