May 28, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Tesoro celebrates first CIF championship with 3-0 victory over Fullerton

Tesoro players and coaches celebrate after capturing the CIF Division 4 title Saturday. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone).

Tesoro High School right-hander Coleton Dahl dominated, striking out 11 batters over six innings to lead the Titans to a 3-0 victory over Fullerton in the CIF Division 4 championship game Saturday afternoon before a near capacity crowd at Cal State Fullerton’s Goodwin Field.

The Titans (25-8), celebrating the 20th year anniversary of the school’s opening, earned their first CIF baseball championship with the win. The Titans reached the finals in 2004 but lost to Corona del Mar. The Indians (24-8) were making their fifth appearance in the finals and first since winning the 1978 championship. 

Dahl threw 108 pitches and gave up only three hits. Jake Lambdin retired Fullerton in order in the seventh inning to close out the game and earn his sixth save of the season.

“I mixed it up pretty good today, my slider and changeup were working well and when I got in a jam, I just focused on throwing strikes,” said Dahl, who improved his record to 7-2 for the season.

Tesoro Coach Tony Nieto said it was a great win for the school and the program.

“I’m super proud of the Titans,” Nieto said. “Coleton didn’t have his best stuff, but he kept grinding it out for six innings. He’s our guy. He made huge pitches and he showed a lot of character.”

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

Indians coach Shaun Hill was also impressed with Dahl.

“He’s definitely one of the best pitchers we faced all year. I tip my cap to him and Tesoro,” Hill added.

Fullerton was shut out for the first time this season while Tesoro registered its seventh blanking of the year. 

Leading 1-0, Tesoro added two valuable insurance runs in the sixth inning off reliever Kyle Kim to seal the victory.

Jackson Freeman led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a double. Owen Faust then bunted but an errant throw got past Indians first baseman Jeremy Maldonado allowing Freeman to score and up the Titans lead to 2-0. Faust made it 3-0 when he scored later in the inning on Kevin Caffery’s RBI sacrifice fly. Faust was the only player to have two hits in the game.

“I felt like it was a huge hit to lead off the inning and we were able to score two runs that gave us a cushion,” said Freeman.

Fullerton had scoring opportunities but Dahl repeatedly kept them off the scoreboard.

The Indians had two runners on in the first inning with one out but Dahl struck out two Fullerton batters to get out of the jam. Again in the second, Fullerton had two runners on with one out, but Dahl retired Maldonado and Matt Kim to end the Indians scoring threat. The trend continued as Fullerton left a runner on in each the third and fourth innings without scoring.

“We had them on the ropes a few times but we couldn’t get that big hit,” said Hill.

The Indians 3-4-5 hitters went a combined 1 for 8 with six strikeouts in the game. 

The Titans pushed across a run in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Lambdin singled and eventually scored on Justin Simard’s RBI sacrifice fly.  

Fullerton starter EJ Ayala (2-1) threw well for the Indians but was tagged with the loss. He gave up three hits and one run and struck out four in five innings.

“I wasn’t really nervous at the start of the game but there was so much excitment, after I settled in I was OK,” Ayala said.   

—Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone