It took 10 innings on a rainy Thursday night at Mayfair Park’s Lisa Fernandez Field for Lakewood to outlast Millikan in a 3-2 victory that gives the Lancers their 10th Moore League title in the last 12 years.
“Yeah, order is restored,” Lakewood coach Andy Miramontes said. “This rivalry brings the best out of both teams. It feels like Millikan steps up their game ten-fold, and it’s going to be a tight ball game no matter what. We just found a way to win and that’s what good teams do.”
Lakewood had won 65 consecutive league games, and the last five league titles, when Wilson and Millikan both beat the Lancers last year.
“This feels amazing,” Lakewood captain Jordan Kaeka said after she drove home the winning runs with a triple in the 10th inning. “We’ve been working so hard and every girl on this team has the heart to win it. I feel like we knew we were going to win by the way we were playing.”
Lakewood’s Kaiya Yonamine and Millikan’s Rachel Rubio were masterful in the circle, and both of them pitched all 10 innings.
“I was motivated because we both have the same pitching coach (Toni Paisley at XCEL) and we ended up having a lesson at the same time yesterday, so it was crazy,” Yonamine said.
Yonamine allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out six. Rubio allowed five hits, struck out six and only needed three pitches to get three outs in the fifth and ninth innings.
“I’m proud of both teams,” Miramontes said. “Rachel Rubio pitched her ass off, and she deserved to win that game. Millikan has a good team, and they’re better than their record shows.”
“This game always has that championship feel with big game jitters,” Millikan coach Akemi Fleming said. “The true emotions start to flow out and we can see how much these girls really love playing the game.”
Only three runners got into scoring position in the first five innings, and then Millikan opened up the scoring in the bottom of the sixth inning when junior Anissa Ramos led off with a bloop single. After an error and a fielder’s choice, Ramos scored on senior Maya De Sota’s RBI sacrifice fly to center field.
Lakewood tied the game 1-1 in the top of the seventh when left fielder Cassie Camou led off with a bunt single. The junior took second on a sac bunt, and stole third before scoring on an error.
Both teams saw scoring chances wasted in the extra innings, and Lakewood got imperative defensive plays all night long to stay in the game. Right fielder Clarissa Salazar threw out a runner at first base to save a run in the second inning, catcher Kendall Lundberg threw out a runner in the seventh, and center fielder Destinie Beck made a sprinting catch to end the eighth with a runner on base.
Millikan sophomore catcher Lily Romero made a great catch on a pop fly in the second inning, and second baseman Alyssa Estrada made a great throw to Romero for a tag at home in the 10th before Kaeka’s triple.
The international tiebreaker came into play in the 10th inning, which means both teams started with a runner on second base, and that’s when both teams scored again.
A sacrifice bunt and an error put two runners on for Lakewood in the top of the frame, and Kaeka came to the plate with runners on the corners and two outs.
“She is absolutely the kid I want in that spot,” Miramontes said. “We talked about her getting underneath (the pitches) so she made that adjustment and squared up and put the ball in play.”
Kaeka drilled a high fastball into the left center field gap for a triple that scored Beck and Salazar to give Lakewood its first lead of the night 3-1.
“I was just thinking ‘get it done and be the one who wins it for us’,” Kaeka said. “My mentally was to just hit the ball on the ground, but when I hit it I felt like it was going to be in the gap so I was just sprinting.”
“She’s a great senior leader and one of the best senior captains we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Miramontes said of Kaeka.
Millikan responded in the bottom of the 10th as Estrada scored from second base on a sac bunt from Estrada, and a sac fly from Grace Fleming. With two outs, senior Gretchen Goldsmith reached on an error and De Sota singled to left field. After Vivian Rodriguez was intentionally walked to load the bases, Kara Bresnahan came up as a pinch hitter with the go-ahead run in scoring position.
“I was so nervous,” Yonamine said. “It was so hard to keep my composure. I just talked to myself in my head and told myself to calm down.”
Yonamine got Bresnahan to line out to Kaeka at shortstop to end the game.
“She ate her spinach last night so I knew she’d be strong to the finish,” Miramontes said of Yonamine.
Lakewood (15-1, 9-0) is ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division 2, and is on a nine-game winning streak. The Lancers continue league play on Tuesday against Jordan. Millikan (14-10, 7-2) is at Compton next Thursday.
“We wish all of the teams (in league) were like Millikan so every game would be competitive like this,” Kaeka said. “When we play Millikan we appreciate it because we have to work for what we get.”