Christian Becerra pitches Harvard-Westlake to Division 1 baseball championship

·2 min read
Harvard-Westlake players celebrate 3-0 win over JSerra.
Harvard-Westlake players celebrate their 3-0 win over JSerra. (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Precision pitching, flawless defense and execution of fundamentals propelled Harvard-Westlake to a 3-0 victory over JSerra on Saturday night in the Southern Section Division 1 championship baseball game at Cal State Fullerton.

Christian Becerra (11-1), who signed with California, outdueled UCLA signee Eric Silva to give Harvard-Westlake its first Division 1 championship since 2013, when Jack Flaherty pitched the Wolverines to a 1-0 victory at Dodger Stadium.

Harvard-Westlake scored two runs in the third inning thanks to perfect execution of a sacrifice bunt. Alex Shane, the No. 9 batter in the lineup, led off with a single. After George Cooper walked, catcher Jacob Galloway put down a bunt and Silva threw the ball past first baseman David Horn, with both runners scoring.

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Becerra gave up one hit, a second-inning double off the left-field wall by Luke Jewett. He struck out seven, walked two and never gave the Lions a chance to get back into the game. Silva allowed three hits in six innings, striking out eight.

"We got ahead early, so once you're ahead early, it's kind of easy to cruise your way through," Becerra said.

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Shane, who came on as a major contributor at the bottom of the order late this season, also had an RBI single in the seventh to provide the Wolverines with an insurance run.

This game lived up to the hype of No. 1 vs. No. 2. JSerra (27-7) received the top seed for the playoffs because the Lions won the Trinity League and knocked off highly regarded Orange Lutheran twice. Harvard-Westlake (29-4) owned two regular-season wins over JSerra, but those happened in March and April, leading the seeding committee to disregard the head-to-head matchups.

Seating capacity for Fullerton on Saturday night was 1,500 because of COVID-19 restrictions; it's usually 3,300.

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Harvard-Westlake has chosen not to participate in next week's Southern California Regional playoffs. Coach Jared Halpert is the manager for the USA U15 national team and is headed back east on Sunday. Other coaches and players will be traveling next week to Arizona for summer tournaments.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.