FULLERTON, Calif. -- The final of the Anderson Bats National Classic, held on the campus of Cal State Fullerton's Goodwin Field, featured a showdown between two of California's best teams.
El Toro (Lake Forest) came into the game ranked No. 4 in the CalHiSports.com State Rankings, and Mater Dei (Santa Ana) was ranked No. 6. Both the Chargers and the Monarchs have spent the majority of the season high in the rankings, and it was only fitting for the two to meet in what is generally regarded as the top high school baseball tournament in the nation.
The last time the Monarchs were in the championship game was back in 2005, when they lost to Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.). El Toro, on the other hand, was competing in its first championship game. Mater Dei has finished in second place a total of three times (1995, 1996, 2005). The Monarchs ended their title drought Thursday with a 2-1 win over El Toro.
Getting the nod for the Chargers was righty T.J. Kendzora, and lefty Ruben Orosco took to the hill for the Monarchs.
Kendzora got off to a good start, retiring the first two Monarchs he faced. Then with two outs, DH Aaron Northcraft singled, bringing up first baseman Brian Frattali.
The senior blasted the first pitch he saw over the left-field wall. If it had not been for a screen over the wall, the ball would have landed in the parking lot. With one swing of the bat, Frattali gave the Monarchs a 2-0 lead, which proved to be the game-winning play.
Kendzora settled down and pitched 6 2/3 strong innings in El Toro's loss. He ended up surrendering the two runs, struck out eight and gave up only three hits. He threw the ball well, just made that one mistake which the Chargers could not recover from.
El Toro had its chances on offense, though. Junior second baseman Garrett Donohoe started the second inning with a walk. He would later score on a sacrifice fly by senior catcher Grant Andersen.
Orosco was brilliant on the mound for Mater Dei. The lefty turned in a dominating performance. He went six strong innings for the win. Orosco had seven strikeouts, gave up the only run and recorded seven ground-ball outs.
He benefited also from two questionable calls by the umpires: Two batters appeared to foul balls off their foot, but both balls were instead considered fair and turned into ground-ball outs.
So what's next for both teams?
With the win, Mater Dei will move up in next week's CalHiSports.com State Rankings, as Jesuit (Carmichael, Calif.), Chatsworth (Calif.) and El Toro all lost this week. The possibility exists that winning the National Classic could pole-vault the Monarchs to the No. 1 spot over Yucaipa (Calif.) and Clovis West (Fresno, Calif.).
The Monarchs may now be the favorite in the CIFSS Div. I playoffs, but they still have a way to go in Trinity League play, in which they are currently 5-2. They end their season with a pair of games against Trinity League rival Lutheran (Orange, Calif.).
El Toro, on the other hand, is a perfect 7-0 in the Sea View League and will return to league play next week with a pair of games against Northwood. Like Mater Dei, the Chargers' remaining games are all within their league.
Mater Dei will look to capture the CIFSS Div. I title, while the Chargers look to take the Div. II title.
Andrew Drennen covers high school baseball for ESPN RISE.