By Steve Breazeale
The JSerra baseball team is not taking it’s run through the CIF-SS Division 1 Championships lightly.
After reaching the semifinals two years ago and the quarterfinals of last year’s postseason, the Lions know what the sting of a big loss feels like. With so many expectations surrounding them, top-ranked JSerra is playing like it never wants to come face-to-face with that feeling again.
The Lions breezed past visiting Loyola 4-1 in the second round of the playoffs on May 24 and will travel to play Hart in the quarterfinals on May 27.
Holding on to a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning, JSerra opened the game up with a three-run two-out rally. Junior Royce Lewis worked a walk, stole second and was doubled in by Brady Schockey. After senior Chase Strumpf drew a walk, senior Davis Wendzel laced a two-RBI single into the outfield to make it 4-0.
“Those are all veteran guys,” JSerra coach Brett Kay said. “Wendzel’s at bat with two strikes and two outs was huge but it was set up by Chase and Brady. Those senior guys come through. They know how to do it and they’ve been there before.”
Lewis singled in Matt Manskar in the third inning to open the scoring. Lewis had one hit, one RBI, two stolen bases and scored a run. Shockey went 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI.
The game was never close, and the Cubs got their lone run in the final inning with two outs. It was the first run JSerra has allowed in the playoffs through two games. Senior Collin Quinn pitched a complete game shutout against Dana Hills in the first round on May 20.
JSerra starter Cole Samuels went five innings, allowing three hits and no walks. He did, however, hit three Loyola batters. The veteran JSerra defense made all of the necessary plays behind Samuels when Loyola had runners on.
The Lions have now won 10 games in a row and have allowed only seven runs over the stretch. It’s a hot streak that came at the perfect time. The Lions are just hoping it can last a few more weeks.
“You have to take advantage of it. The last two years have sucked,” Wendzel said. “We made it to the semifinals and the quarterfinals and couldn’t come through in those situations. Now we’re just trying to pull one game at a time and get through each one.”