The first two batters Lake Balboa Birmingham pitcher Daniel Flores faced Wednesday in the City Section Open Division semifinals against Palisades ended up getting hit by a pitch and walking on four pitches.
“We were ready to get him,” said Birmingham coach Matt Mowry, who has been known to have a quick hook in the playoffs.
Kaden Taque was sent to the bullpen at USC to warm up.
The message was coming through loud and clear to Flores.
“I did not want to go out. I did everything I could to stay in,” he said.
Flores saved a quick exit by picking off the runner at second, getting a ground out and fly out. He proceeded to throw a no-hitter on 106 pitches and send Birmingham into Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship game at Dodger Stadium with a 5-1 win over Palisades. No-hitters are nothing new for Palisades. The Dolphins also got no-hit by Bret Saberhagen of Reseda Cleveland in the 1982 championship game.
The Patriots have been to the final five times since 2017, and their experience came through in eliminating No. 2-seeded Palisades (26-3). Birmingham was able to get eight hits and four runs in four innings off Palisades ace Mason Edwards, who came in with an 8-0 record and a 1.12 ERA. Trevor Sostman had an RBI single when there was an opening on the right side vacated by the second baseman because Birmingham sent its runner early. There was a two-run triple by JB Dalumpines, who finished four for four.
Most of all, there was Flores persevering despite walking five and hitting two batters. He struck out five and never really came close to giving up a hit. The scorekeeper originally ruled a bunt by Palisades in the fifth a hit, but it was correctly changed to fielder’s choice because first baseman Sostman threw late to third and could have thrown to first for the out.
Catcher Edgar Leon came through defensively for Birmingham, throwing out a runner stealing, catching a pop fly and making blocks in the dirt. He was a key contributor after Birmingham lost one of its best players, catcher Gavin Taylor, for the rest of the playoffs because he was found to have participated in a workout with a professional team last weekend in violation of CIF rules.
Now Mowry, who lost his wife to cancer in September and almost decided not to coach this season, will be put through an emotional game on Saturday trying to win a fifth City title. The tears could be flowing and there’s no doubt his 22-8 team with a 13-game win streak would like to win one for Amy Mowry.
In the other semifinal, Carson upset No. 1-seeded Granada Hills 3-2. Highlander pitchers walked seven. Carson will play Birmingham for the Open Division title Saturday.
Carson took a 3-2 lead in the sixth on a squeeze bunt from Ryan Camacho and a bases loaded walk to Aiden Brasher. Carson, the Marine League champion, got two scoreless innings of relief from Aiden Brasher. Easton Hawk had three hits for Granada Hills.
“I was on pins and needles,” Carson coach Steven Manqueros said.
The Colts have never won a baseball title. Starting pitcher Jaime Quezada was able to keep his team close, and the Colts executed the bunt game perfectly.