Serrano Wins Division 4 CIF Championship After Overturned Call


Serrano, a Division 4 high school in the High Desert, won the CIF championship against South Torrance high school in the top of the 7th inning after a very controversial call was appealed by Serrano’s head coach, Joe Knowlton. There was much debate as to whether or not this was the correct decision, but pictures and video of the play revealed that in fact the umpires made the correct decision.

With the bases loaded in the top of the 7th and a tie game knotted at one, senior Daniel Brodie came up to the plate for Serrano with 1 out and a whole lot of pressure behind him. Pitcher Drake Pingel for South Torrance was somewhat rattled in the 7th with the bases loaded from a hit-by-pitch, a basehit, and an intentional walk.

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As Brodie came to the plate, he was forced to shorten his swing as the count was 1-2, so Brodie hit a hard ground ball to the second-baseman and he turned a 4-6-3 double play, which would have ended the 7th inning, but the call was appealed by head coach Joe Knowlton. A tough call for the four-man umpire crew, but after a few moments of deliberation, the call was overturned in favor of Serrano because the first-baseman, Matt Diederich, pulled his foot off the bag.

LA Times writer Eric Sondheimer described it as “one of the strangest endings you can have in baseball” which is true, because not many championships end in a call being overturned. But, overall this was a very good game with well-matched offense and defense.

Both Drake Pingel for South Torrance and R.J. Peace for Serrano had outstanding performances and both struggled in the 7th which was the key inning of the game.

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Pingel with 6.2 innings pitched allowed 6 hits and 2 runs; both of which were earned runs. Pingel also had 9 strikeouts on the day with only 3 walks; two of which were intentional.

R.J. Peace pitched 7.0 innings allowing 6 hits and only 1 run which was unearned. Peace with 6 strikeouts and only 1 walk got the win after the game-ending call.

Peace is a major league prospect and is likely to be drafted in the upcoming 2015 draft. After the game, Peace stated that “I’ve never seen a game end that way” but he all he could do was allow his coach to “appeal and hope for the best.”

In the top of the 7th, with a score of 1-0 Serrano, a lead-off single by David Ramirez of South Torrance caused R.J. Peace to become rattled as he gave up another hit and had runners on first and third. Peace saw that Ryan Ishimaru had a sizable lead, so he threw over to first for the second out. But, Peace managed to load the bases which allowed for the tying run to score after an error on an attempted double play.

The game quickly became a do or die situation for both teams and Serrano capitalized on this. Overall, this was a great game with excellent pitching and plenty of excitement.

Serrano became  a championship team

This championship game was monumental for Serrano because they hadn’t had a championship behind them since 2005, so the fans, players, coaches, and supporters were very excited and proud to witness the changing from high school baseball players to high school CIF champions.

Head coach Joe Knowlton stated that the team did a “good job executing” and that even though “[the ending] was a little strange, it was the right call.” In excitement for his school, Ray Maholchic, Serrano’s athletic director, shared that he was “so proud of those kids” and how “sticking together shows character.”

Players such as Saxon Andross expressed that “all season we’ve been wanting this.” Catcher Alex Spadafora stated how Serrano “stayed in [the game] the whole time” and because of their heart, they went “from nothing to something” as they held their heads high and did their job as individuals and as a team.