RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA >> The Tesoro baseball team required contributions from everybody to beat Fullerton 6-4 in the CIF Southern California Division IV Regional championship game Saturday at Tesoro High.
Tesoro (28-8) beat Fullerton 3-0 previously in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 championship game on May 21.
Saturday’s game was far different from the previous championship game between the two teams. Each team went to its bullpen early and had to overcome defensive lapses.
Tesoro had every player in its lineup reach base Saturday and got an outstanding relief pitching performance from a senior, Joshua Ferry, who had not pitched since the Southern Section semifinals.
Ferry entered the game in the second inning and pitched five innings, allowing just two hits and one run.
“He has the heart of a champion,” Tesoro coach Tony Nieto said of Ferry. “We were hoping to bring him in later in the game but he was ready right away. He gave us five innings, what more could we have asked for? What a way to finish his high school career.”
“I did know I was going to pitch today and I was just trying to have as much fun as I could,” Ferry said. “It’s surreal. I am just glad to be a part of all this.”
Tesoro’s offense was led by one of the best hitters in the county in Jackson Freeman. He hit a two-run home run in the first inning to tie the score and hit a two-run double in the second inning to tie the game at 4-4.
“He’s just amazing, one of the top players in Orange County no doubt,” Nieto said of Freeman. “He carried us on his back when we were down and had incredible at-bats.”
Freeman scored on a wild pitch in the second inning and Kevin McCaffrey hit a run-scoring single to put Tesoro ahead 6-4.
Tesoro’s closer, Jake Lambdin, entered the game with a runner on first and no outs in the seventh inning. With runners at the corners and one out, Tesoro turned a double play, capped with a nice pick by first baseman Nate Molinari who was playing his first inning at first base this season.
“What a way to end our season. The only reason I put him there is because in practice he messes around and plays first base,” Nieto said. “That’s the secret to us is our depth. A lot of our pieces are interchangeable.”
Fullerton (26-9) got a RBI single from Andrew Violet in the first inning. The Indians scored twice in the second inning on a Tesoro error and a sacrifice fly from Nate Norman.
Arturo Hernandez pitched 4⅓ scoreless innings of relief and allowed just two hits and struck out four.
Tesoro had to win its last game of the regular season to qualify for the CIF-SS playoffs and then rattled off eight consecutive postseason wins to have its most successful season in school history.
“This team will be remembered at Tesoro forever,” Nieto said. “The core group of the seniors steered the ship for us, and there was a point in that last (league) series against Dana Hills where they went all in and we went on a roll.”