Los Angeles Preps: Al Leyva

Mission Viejo keeps repeat hopes alive

May, 22, 2012
Anthony ShewBlair Angulo for ESPN.comAnthony Shew found his groove again in leading Mission Viejo over Damien

LA VERNE -- The pitcher with the funky delivery picked the right time to snap out of his funk.

Mission Viejo right-hander Anthony Shew had been knocked around in recent weeks, failing to fool opponents with his uncommon throwing motion. The senior seemed to recapture his deceptiveness in a complete-game effort Tuesday afternoon, leading the Diablos to a 9-1 victory over Damien in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 baseball playoffs.

Defending section champion Mission Viejo advanced to the quarterfinals, where it will meet second-seeded Pacifica of Garden Grove on Friday.

Shew had been tagged for 35 hits over his last four starts but gave up just five -- all singles -- on Tuesday. The lone run Damien mustered came in the first inning. Shew struck out six and closed the door by retiring the last seven batters in order.

"It's great to see him bounce back," said senior first baseman Mitch Holland, whose three-run double in the fourth broke the game open. "He's one of my best friends and I know how hard it is on him when he doesn't pitch well."

Holland continued his torrid hitting. He had a pair of three-run home runs in a first-round win last week and, on Tuesday, extended his hot streak.

"He's a big, strong kid. He's been a three-year varsity player and a team leader," Mission Viejo head coach Chris Ashbach said. "He's the nicest kid in the world, so I couldn't be happier to see this happening for him right now."

Holland's bases-clearing rocket to dead center field knocked out Damien starting pitcher Grant Hockin, a highly regarded sophomore who has already verbally committed to play at UCLA. Hockin had beaten Mission Viejo, 3-0, in a tournament game at Chino last month.

"I've been hot lately and looking for the fastball early," Holland said. "He left the ball out over the plate after working me in and out really hard. I hit it hard and luckily it dropped."

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LA South: Damien 6, Glendora 4

May, 19, 2011

GLENDORA -- A new team will be crowned in Division 2 this year.

Damien right-hander Chad Lee hurled a complete game and the Spartans battled back from a 4-1 deficit to upset defending champion Glendora, 6-4, in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 baseball playoffs Thursday afternoon. Lee held host Glendora scoreless in the final four innings, paving the way for Damien's comeback effort.

"We got one," Damien coach Al Leyva said. "Who would know about tomorrow, but today, when it counted, we got it."

The Spartans (16-12) tied it up at 4-4 in the fifth, capitalizing on a two-out fielding error by Glendora shortstop Martin Gallegos. J.J. Murillo beat out the throw at first, which allowed Lee to race home from second base. In the sixth, Damien scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error and tacked on an insurance run on a Dorian Granados RBI double, making the 10-minute bus ride back to La Verne all the more enjoyable.

"We didn't play our best game," Glendora coach Dan Henley said. "Always at the end of the year you're hoping to play your best game because you're going to be playing really good teams. We've been playing really good baseball as of late, fundamentally sound defense. We struggled with those phases. This is a tough one at the end [of the season]. Last game, we're done. Tomorrow we'll clean out the lockers and figure out what we're doing for the summer."

Glendora (17-7-1) won the Baseline League in its first year since moving over from the Sierra League and had won its first CIF title last season. Senior first baseman John Alexander, a UC Irvine commit, put the Tartans on the board in the first with his ninth home run of the season. He finished among the state's leaders in homers. Pitcher Sean Beckman absorbed the loss, falling to 9-3 on the season.

Lee (4-0) settled down after giving up three runs in the third.

"I think I just lost focus," Lee said. "After that I just pounded the zone. That's what's helped me the most of the year."

Damien, the Sierra League's third-place team, will play Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (18-11) in the second round Tuesday. Both teams had to go through the wild-card round.

"You just hope they want to play like this all the time," Leyva said. "Whether we're only 10 minutes away or four hours away, we want that same intensity."