From left, Capistrano Valley’s Blake Fitzgerald, Bryce Willits and Ryan Daugherty celebrate their win over Foothill in the CIF-SS Division 1 Championship game at Goodwin Field in Fullerton on Saturday, June 2, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)
PUBLISHED: June 2, 2018 at 10:13 pm | UPDATED: June 3, 2018 at 9:01 pm
Foothill’s Ryan Daugherty raises the championship plaque with the team after defeating Foothill in the CIF-SS Division 1 Championship game at Goodwin Field in Fullerton on Saturday, June 2, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)
FULLERTON – Capistrano Valley and Coach Bob Zamora remained perfect in CIF-Southern Section baseball championship games Saturday night as the Cougars secured their seventh title.
Call it the perfect seven, or lucky No. 7.
Senior left-hander Ryan Daugherty allowed one run on three hits in a complete game and tripled to lead the Cougars to a 2-1 victory against Foothill in the Division 1 final in front of 3,000 at Cal State Fullerton’s Goodwin Field.
With Zamora leading the way in his 41st season, the Cougars improved to 7-0 in section finals and gave the 71-year-old a title in four decades.
“It’s unbelievably lucky,” said Zamora, who has led the Cougars to titles in 1983, 1987, 1991, 2000, 2001, 2009 and 2018. “Perfect seven, huh? It’s just unimaginable but I did it with one of my better teams. This is a really great team. They won a CIF championship in academics.”
Said section commissioner Rob Wigod before the game of Zamora’s record, “That’s incredible.”
The bullpen for Capistrano Valley (25-10) was quiet as the St. Mary’s-bound Daugherty (8-3) took the mound for the seventh inning. Daugherty recorded his sixth strikeout and induced a fly out before a two-out walk. But he recovered and a fly out to center fielder Nathan Manning – playing with a broken finger on his left, non-throwing hand — sealed the victory and sparked a wild celebration near the mound.
“Every other fly ball hurt except the last one,” Manning said.
Manning went 2 for 3 at the plate.
Daugherty out-dueled his future Saint Mary’s teammate Ryan Taurek (8-4), a senior right-hander who allowed four hits and one earned run in a complete game for the Knights (25-9).
“My change-up was definitely my best pitch,” Daugherty said. “(But) the biggest part of our game is our defense. We don’t make many errors. Defense wins championships, and that’s what happened tonight. … (Taurek) is a good pitcher. .. I’m excited to play with him and my buddy Bryce (Willits).”
The game featured two surprise finalists. Neither team was ranked in the final regular-season Division 1 poll.
Foothill opened a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Griffin Selby, who drove in leadoff batter Kyle Ashworth for his team-leading 27th RBI.
Ashworth, a junior center fielder, led off the game by working an eight-pitch walk and racing to third on a one-out single to right by Chad Castillo.
Capistrano Valley tied the score 1-1 in the second as pinch-runner Nathan Benefeito scored on a two-out error on a grounder with runners at second and third.
Foothill minimized the damage on an errant throw, collecting the ball behind first base and firing home for the final out with a sweeping tag by catcher Zachary Yoo. Zamora argued the call afterward but the out stood.
Joey Holman helped set up the threat with a two-strike sacrifice bunt to give Capistrano Valley runners at second and third with one out. Holman, the Cougars’ leader in RBI with 26, delivered after fouling off two other bunts.
The Cougars took a 2-1 lead in the third on a sacrifice fly to left by Willits, who plated Daugherty after his triple.
“He’s only 5-foot-10,” Zamora said of Daugherty, “but he can play. … He’s going to be fine.”
Foothill coach Vince Brown also was impressed with his pitcher.
“Both pitchers really competed,” he said. “(But) bottom lime, I have no regrets because my team played hard. … We just got beat by a really pitcher. Great season.”
As for his coaching future, Zamora said he has asked his administration to find a replacement — of the on-campus, alumni ilk – but he’ll remain if needed.
“It’s time to get young blood in here,” he said. “What a great way to go out, don’t you think? No. 7.”