May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Jack Bunnell leads Woodbridge to 1-0 victory over Beckman and outright title

Woodbridge High players and coaches celebrate after winning the outright PCL title Wednesday. (Photo TIm Burt, OC Sports Zone)

Woodbridge High senior Jack Bunnell has had many big, memorable games in his varsity career, including a no-hitter.

But Wednesday’s game at Ryan Lemmon Stadium, in which Bunnell pitched a complete game allowing just four hits in Woodbridge’s 1-0 victory over Beckman, will likely stand out.

Bunnell (5-0) struck out 11 and also had the Warriors RBI in the first inning to help Woodbridge (20-3) clinch the outright title, its first since 2016 under Tim Murray, who was on hand to congratulate Warrior Coach Ryan Brucker. Beckman, which has won the last two league titles, needed to win Wednesday and again Thursday to earn a share of the crown.

The Warriors clinched a share of the title Monday.

“This has got to be number one of any game I’ve pitched in,” Bunnell said. “It’s hard to describe right now, it still hasn’t really clicked. This senior group we got is better than anything I’ve been a part of, along with the underclassmen, they provide the youth we need and the spark and the energy that we need to become league champions.”

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Beckman (17-6) was led by starting pitcher Lucas Welch, who was outstanding. Welch struck out eight and allowed just three hits and after giving up a run in the first inning, he retired 15 batters in a row.

Both teams are headed to the CIF playoffs: Woodbridge as the No. 1 entry and Beckman as either the No. 2 or No. 3 team. Beckman remains in second place ahead of third place Laguna Hills. Portola defeated the Hawks 2-1 Wednesday.,

The only run of Wednesday’s game came in the bottom of the first inning, Sean McCance led off with a single and stole second base. Then with one out, Bunnell slapped a single to right field to drive home McCance.

“I had two strikes on me and I want to say it was a fastball out and I just threw my bat at it and it fell somewhere to get the guy in,” said Bunnell, who is headed to University of Washington.

Beckman’s most serious threat came in the fourth inning when the Patriots loaded the bases with two outs. But Bunnell got Zack McAlister to fly out.

In the top of the seventh, the Patriots’ Blake Dimos singled with two outs to put the tying run on. But Bunnell struck out Nick McLain to end the game. Bunnell struck out the side in the seventh, and shortly after that, the Warriors had a massive dogpile on the field to celebrate.

“It was just about maintaining my composure, taking a deep breath and slowing the game down and make the next pitch,” Bunnell said. “That’s all that was important.”

“He’s been competitive like that before,” said Woodbridge Coach Ryan Brucker. “You can’t really put into words what Jack means to me and this program. He came in as a freshman my first year and he and this group of seniors, we knew they were pretty talented and looking down the road, we thought we would be pretty good.

“He filled the zone up today, he was dominant and he did it with the bat. He dominated the game. He drove in the run and he shut them out, four hit shutout.”

The Warriors wanted to win the outright title Wednesday.

“We figured we had to get it here, because going there tomorrow, it’s a tough place to win, so we were ready to go to Lucky (Ramanathan in relief) if we had to but we didn’t need to,” Brucker said.

“It’s very sweet and if you want to be the best you have to beat the best and my hats off to Lucas Welch for the game he pitched. He was equally as dominant and just shut us down and he deserved to win that game. Beckman is a class program and to be able to beat them for the league championship feels pretty good.”

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