Redondo Union ekes out win in opening round of CIF Division 3 baseball playoffs
Redondo Union pitching ace Cassius Hamm has been used to getting little run support throughout the season and the trend continued Friday against La Salle in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 baseball playoffs.
Despite having many opportunities to score, including loading the bases in two innings, host Redondo could not find that elusive clutch hit until the bottom of the seventh inning Brady Dorn drove a 3-1 pitch over the right fielder’s head to score pinch runner Billy Strickland with the game’s only run.
The seventh inning began when Duncan McKinnon and Jason Dicochea walked. Cain Castor hit a ground ball to third where McKinnon was forced out, giving Dorn the opportunity for his late-game heroics.
“I was coming up fourth that inning so I knew if someone got on, I’d have a chance,” Dorn said. “I was really confident. The coach had me take when the count was 3-0 but after I got a strike, he let me hit. I was looking for a fastball because I’d been struggling with the slider most of the game. When I connected, it felt great off the bat. We had our ace out there on the mound and the last few games we’ve pulled it out late for him.”
Hamm came out on top in the pitcher’s duel with La Salle’s Jordan Rodgers and was perfect through 4 1/3 innings. The senior finished with a two-hitter and nine strikeouts while allowing only one walk.
“After the first two innings I really found my rhythm,” Hamm said. “All four of my pitches were working today but my fastball and curveball were my main pitches. They were struggling with the curve ball. I feel like I do better in closer games. I use the intensity of the game to stay our there and battle.”
Hamm lost his bid for a perfect game in the fifth inning when Jared Atkins hit a shot to right centerfielder. Jason Clebowicz’s diving attempt to catch the ball was unsuccessful and Atkins wound up on third base with a triple and only one out.
After Hamm got ahead of La Salle’s George Medina 0-2, a slider forced Medina to hit a weak come-backer to Hamm, who got Atkins in a rundown and catcher Tyler Novak applied the tag to preserve the shutout.
“It was a stressful game,” Redondo head coach Jeff Baumback said. “As the game kept going, I thought Cassius might throw a no-hitter and we better score a run. It was an unbelievable performance. Cassius forced them to swing and we had a couple of scary moments but he pitched through it. This is the best game he’s pitched all year long as well as the most meaningful since it was a do-or-die situation.”
Redondo batters mustered five hits, five walks, were hit three times and only struck out three times.
“I can’t ask for a whole lot more offensively,” Baumback said. “We had a lot of base runners and opportunities but just couldn’t get that timely hit.”
Dorn, who stranded base runners in the first and third innings, redeemed himself with his talk-off hit.
“I asked Brady, why didn’t you just do that in the first inning and take some stress off of me?” Baumback said. “Brady’s got a lot of power to the gap, it’s just a matter of getting him to buy into that.”
The 1-0 victory advances Redondo (19-12) to the second round on Tuesday when the Sea Hawks will host second-seeded Bonita (23-7), a 3-2 winner over Cathedral City. All games with the exception of the finals are scheduled for 3:15 p.m.
“It will be number-two pitcher against number-two pitcher, but in baseball any team can win on any given day,” Baumback stressed. “Bonita is a very good team and we’ll need to play well to beat them.”
Bay League champion West Torrance (16-14) lost to visiting Diamond Bar 4-3 in its first-round game. Trailing by three runs going into the seventh inning West rallied when Masata Okawa walked, Nathan Santiago singled and Nyles Nygaard’s groundout moved the runners over. Angel Mora’s single brought in two runs then Trevor Mallett hit a ball deep down the left-field line. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the ball bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double, preventing Mora to score from first. A strikeout and ground out ended the season for West.
Mora went 3 for 4 with two RBI in the loss.
Peninsula (22-7) rebounded from its two losses to Redondo in the final week of the regular season to defeat Knight 7-3 in a game played Friday at Antelope Valley College.
Trailing by two runs after five innings, Peninsula rallied for three runs in the sixth and seventh innings for the win.
Jake Sahagian went 2 for 4 including a two-run triple and scored two runs for the Panthers. Erik Rasmussen had a key two-run single in the sixth inning and Phillip Bernstein went 1 for 3 with a run scored.
Peninsula hosts fourth-seeded Santa Monica (24-6), a 5-0 winner over West Covina, in the second round on Tuesday.
Defending Division 3 champion Serra was eliminated by host Loara 8-5.
In Division 4, No. 5 Torrance shutout visiting St. Bonaventure 5-0 Thursday behind a four-hit, eight strikeout performance by Kyle Smith.
Torrance garnered 11 hits in the game jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning.
Ryan Eastburn went 2 for 3 including a three-run double in the second inning. Manny Olloque and Robbie Sylvester each had two hits for the Tartars.
Torrance (23-8) will play at La Sierra (22-6) in the second round on Tuesday.
South Torrance (22-8) advanced after defeating visiting El Rancho 4-1 in the first round.
Matt Mavrosakis and Andy Rojas each had two RBI and pitcher Matt Mogollon allowed only one run in seven innings for the Spartans.
Brackets and results are available at cifss.org.