June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Beckman captures second CIF title with extra inning win over St. John Bosco

Beckman players celebrate a CIF title with a dog pile Saturday at Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium. (Photos courtesy Rosalene Ledendecker).

LAKE ELSINORE – Beckman High School baseball players proved Saturday what a difference a couple months can make.

The Patriots captured the second CIF title in school history and first since 2011 defeating St. John Bosco 2-1 in the CIF Division 3 final on a walk-off single by Jagger Snitko with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning in front of 409 fans at the Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium.

After the winning run came in, Beckman players celebrated with a massive dogpile and mobbed Isaiah Kapur, who scored the winning run and Snitko.

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

Rex Jarcy, who came on in relief of starter Zach Ireland, earned the win with a scoreless inning. Jarcy, who earned the win in the semifinal victory over Los Alamitos, improved his record to 10-2.

“This is the perfect exclamation mark for what we started doing two months ago,” said Beckman Coach Kevin Lavalle. “I’ve said it before, two months ago, I think we won five games and scored one run and we couldn’t tie our own shoes, we couldn’t get a hit. As a coach, I realized the whole time is the effort was there. This is a sport where these kids’ parents signed them up when they were six years old to teach them life lessons and we learned such a great lesson this year about being resilient and being dedicated and dropping any sense of any ego that any individual could have and it just became about us.

“The senior class is the reason for that, those guys battled and, Ken (Tomitaka) and Zach (Ireland) have been on varsity since they were freshmen and in the playoffs, got walked off on three times and hadn’t won a playoff game until 15 days ago. Fifteen days ago, we were being no-hit for six and two thirds innings and got a hit and won it on a walk-off walk.”

On Saturday, the walk-off was a bit more dramatic with Snitko delivering the critical single to right field. It appeared that Kapur would be thrown out at home, but he found a way to elude the tag and slide in safely.

“I was trying to keep it simple,” said Snitko, who was 2 for 4. “This whole day I feel I was putting good swings on the ball and I just took a deep breath before stepping into the box, I just got a pitch to hit on the outside of the plate and I drove it through the three-four hole and well, the rest is history.”

Tomitaka, who was 1 for 2 with a run scored out of the lead-off spot, emphasized the importance of the win.

“This victory means so much for us, just because of the fact that in the four years I played on varsity, we had three first-round exits and I knew coming into this year, we felt kind of different,” Tomitaka said.

“The talent was there but most importantly, the selflessness that coach talked about and the commitment was there for the team. I just kind of knew we were going to go deep in the playoffs and maybe even win a championship.”

Tomitaka scored the tying run in the third inning. He led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second base by Ireland and scored when Jack Terry reached on an error.

St. John Bosco pitcher Julian Garcia was solid, allowing six hits and striking out three.

Ireland battled as well.

Lavalle said that Ireland may not have had his best stuff but praised the way he battled to keep the Patriots in the game. Ireland struck out five, allowed two hits and walked three.

St. John Bosco (20-11) moved ahead 1-0 in the second inning when Micah Taguiam reached on an error and scored on a single by Noah Perez.

But Ireland gave his team a chance for the win by shutting out the Braves for the next six innings.

“I felt like I just had to pitch,” said Ireland, a UC Davis commit who had a 7-2 record. “I had to bear down and just be the best version of myself today and I felt like I competed and I put my team in a really good position to win the game. That’s a very talented St. John Bosco team, credit to them, but it also helps having great defenders, Ken some great plays, Jagger made a key double play and Jack Terry made a great play in the outfield.

“The connection I have with my catcher, Brent Byrd, all year long was second to none. It was always felt comfortable throwing to him and he was a key factor in today’s win.”

Beckman outhit St. John Bosco 6-3. St. John Bosco had two errors, Beckman one.

It was the first appearance for Beckman in the CIF finals since 2018 when the Patriots lost to Yucaipa 8–2 in the Division 2 final at Cal State Fullerton. One of the pitchers on that team was Trevor Ernt, who is now the Patriots pitching coach.

So Lavalle made sure that Ernt received credit, sending him out to accept the CIF championship trophy.

“I let him go get this plaque because he did so much for us and made our pitchers what they were,” Lavalle said.

St. John Bosco Coach Andy Rojo said he was proud of what his team accomplished this year.

“I told them, ‘Bosco baseball means something out there,’ we competed all the way until the last pitch and that’s all you can ever ask of a team,” Rojo said. “This is the first year, but we knew we had some talent on the field and really I think the guys did an incredible job of sticking together the entire year. They were pretty clear on what they wanted to accomplish this season as far as turning the image of the program around and their desire and work ethic was there.

“As coaches, we were just trying to guide them and the next thing you know we’re one run away from winning the whole thing.”

Rojo said his team will decide next week whether to compete in the CIF So Cal Regional that begins after the Memorial Day weekend.

Lavalle said Beckman players have decided not to compete in the event, indicating this was perhaps a fitting ending to the season.

He seemed to want time to celebrate his second CIF title, the first in 2011 when the Patriots defeated Woodbridge 4-1 in the Division 3 final.

“Right now, it stands at the top, I’m tied with my dad (Hi Lavalle, who also coached) which means a lot to me,” an emotional Lavalle said.

Beckman parents greeted and cheered and hugged the Patriots as they made their way from the field to the stands. Many pictures were taken.

Beckman will have its team banquet Sunday. The Patriots have plenty to celebrate, reflecting on the end of the season in which the team won 15 of its last 16 games and six in a row.

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—-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com