East County Sports

Patriots lose lead, streak, title game

Christian High seniors and coaching staff following the championship game on Saturday.

2021 Christian High Patriots following the CIF State Division V championship game.

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

CIF SO. CALIFORNIA DIVISION V CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

LA HABRA 4, CHRISTIAN 2

 

From staff and wire reports

LA HABRA —- The Christian Patriots fell just short of becoming kings of CIF Southern California baseball in Division V.

Despite a late Patriots rally on a wild scoring sequence (see video), top-seed La Habra answered with three runs in the fifth inning to claim the title, 4-2, on Saturday (June 26) afternoon.

For Christian (27-5), the setback ends an 18-game win streak, falling one short of equaling the longest in school history (19) during a single season. The overall school mark stands at 23 straight, but over the course of two seasons (1997-98), tied for the fifth-longest streak in CIF San Diego Section history.

Trailing 1-0, the fifth inning provided high and lows, physically and emotionally, for both ballclubs.

With two outs, following walks to Xavier Farnum and Hunter Kaul, Patriots skipper Mike Mitchell inserted sophomore Brady Bingham to run for Farnum, needing a little extra speed to both to get on the scoreboard and tie the ballgame.

The move proved important as Shane Bailey laced a hard grounder into center field for a basehit. On the throw to the plate, the ball sailed high and La Habra catcher Derrick Cruz backed into the base path, causing a major collision with Bingham.

Cruz was flipped 180-degrees and landed on the head — fortunately, although shaken, he remained in the ballgame momentarily before being removed due to an injured wrist. Bingham scored the game-tying run, was not ejected since it was the catcher which took away his right-of-way.

Meanwhile, the baseball bounced to the backstop without the Highlanders pitcher backing up. So Mitchell also sent Kaul home to give Christian a 2-1 advantage.

However, La Habra (25-10) answered with three runs in the home half of the frame.

“Obviously, they were upset when the game ended but they understand what a special season it was,” Mitchell said. “The way we played today was not indicative of our season and that was the most frustrating part of today.”

Sophomore Vaughn Major, already a UCSB commit, pitched a complete game, allowing three hits and striking out seven. All four runs were unearned.

“I’m honestly so proud of this team,” Major said. “The seniors stepped up late in the season and took the leadership role that we needed which helped boost us through the playoffs.”

Two errors and a pair of walks (one intentional) would tie the game, then a two-run single by cleanup hitter Matt Coats provided the winning margin.

“La Habra was tough,” Major said. “They were loud and chirpy. It’s hard to focus and not be overwhelmed when there are 100-plus out there who want you to fail. Our team just lacked the confidence to come out and take it to them like we did every game. It hurts now knowing I won’t be able to stop on the field with guys like Braeden again but I know we will look back on an amazing season.”

Christian, which saw great improvement on defense throughout the season, regressed with five errors on Saturday, while they were also limited to four hits — two each from Bailey, the second baseman, and first baseman Braeden Ross.

“I’m proud to say that I got to play with this great group of people and I’m grateful for all the seniors for their work and time with this team,” Bailey said. “Vaughn pitched his heart out and I wish we could have backed him up. This season was awesome and I’m looking forward to next year. There’s nothing like getting to win a CIF championship with your boys. I’ll remember all the memories with this team. It was a special year.”

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