By Aaron Valdez
The CIF Southern Section Division 3 final on Saturday featured two schools that are just a city length apart. Pasadena rivals Maranatha and La Salle were on a collision course since the postseason began but it was the Minutemen who claimed a 4-2 victory over the Lancers in this championship juncture at Cal State Fullerton.
Going into the game, the Minutemen were riding a 19-game winning streak with their last loss coming to Lake Norman on April 5. Other than a close game with Grace Brethren in the second round, Maranatha had cruised through most of its playoff campaign.
However, La Salle was no slouch as they sprung out to an early lead in the first inning. With two runners in scoring position, Brennen Mace crushed a long double to left field to give the Lancers a 2-0 lead.
La Salle pitcher Zane Lindeman did well to keep the Minutemen at bay until a very decisive fourth inning came rolling around. This was where Maranatha went on a four-run rally, which was sparked by a Casey Popham single that brought in Sal Talbullo.
After loading the bases, pitcher Max Blessinger, who had surrendered those two early runs, redeemed himself in a big way by doubling home all three runs to give Maranatha a 4-2 lead.
All the Minutemen had to do now was to keep the Lancers from mounting a comeback of their own in the remaining three innings. Luckily for them, they had just the guy for the job in Dawson Netz, who set a CIF-SS record this season by tossing 59.5 scoreless innings and while only allowing three earned runs in 77 innings of work.
The University of Arizona commit proved to be lights out, striking out five while allowing a mere one hit to help Maranatha win their first championship since it won back-to-back in 2008 and 2009.