After finally putting away the team that gave it the best competition (Chicago, AFCA, Illinois) all tournament long in the semifinals Saturday, West Zone Champion Santa Clarita (Wm. S. Hart), California finished its undefeated run at the 2017 Mustang World Series by defeating Mexico Zone Champion Tijuana, Baja California 11-1 in the championship game Sunday.
It is Santa Clarita’s fifth Mustang World Series title overall, and it’s first since the program went back-to-back in 2010-11. The team’s 2017 title represents California’s second-consecutive and California’s sixth in the last eight years.
Tijuana was able to strike first, when in the bottom of the second, Rene Rodriguez walked, stole second, stole third and scored when a called third strike got by Santa Clarita’s catcher to make it 1-0.
But the Mexico lead didn’t last for long, when, with two outs in the top of the third, Ryan De La Maza hit an RBI single to right, scoring Landon Hu. Then, James Bacon singled to center and scored De La Maza, making it 2-1 California.
Tijuana had a great chance to counter in the bottom of the fourth, when a strikeout ended the inning with runners on the corners.
Santa Clarita broke the game open in the top of the fifth thanks to a two-out rally started by De La Maza. Bacon doubled, scoring De La Maza. Tajveer Brar walked and Aidan Buntich singled to load the bases. Then, Michael Hogen cashed the two runners in scoring position in and advanced Buntich to third, making it 5-1 California. Buntich scored on a passed ball during Dominick Zambrano’s next at-bat, and he knocked in Hogen from third to give the West Zone Champions a 7-1 lead. Hunter Manning’s RBI double completed the scoring for the inning, as all of the game’s momentum was now on Santa Clarita’s side.
Unfortunately, Mexico couldn’t get any momentum back, as three-straight ground outs ended the bottom of the fifth. Santa Clarita then scored three in the top of the sixth, thanks to an RBI single by, who else, but De La Maza. Bacon and Hogen also recorded RBIs on ground outs, as California controlled the game by an 11-1 score with Mexico having one last chance to score.
In the bottom of the sixth, Tijuana loaded the bases, but a strikeout ended the game (11-1).
Brar was sensational on the mound for Santa Clarita, as he pitched a complete game (six innings), allowing one unearned run on six hits and four walks, while striking out nine. At the plate, De La Maza finished the evening 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI. Bacon also went 3-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored.