After shortstop Brian Ginsberg ’14 flipped the ball to second basemen Alex Horowitz ’13 to record the final out of the seventh inning, the baseball team’s yearlong journey had finally concluded. Players rushed the field and piled on top of each other behind the pitchers mound, Head Coach Matt LaCour and his coaching staff all embraced each other outside of the dugout, hundreds of Fanatics in attendance at Dodger Stadium celebrated together and President of Harvard-Westlake Tom Hudnut made his way from his seat to the field to accept the CIF Championship plaque. The baseball team had won its first ever CIF Championship on Friday, May 31 with a 1-0 win over Marina in the Division I Southern Section title game, proving to many national baseball writers that the Wolverines were indeed the best group of high school baseball players in the country.
“You know, there’s honestly no way to describe it,” center fielder Casey Rosenfeld ’13 said. “Greatest feeling on the planet at the best place on the planet. These guys are awesome.”
The Wolverines, who came into the game ranked as the best high school baseball team in the country according to Baseball America magazine, can now claim to be national champions by winning their regional championship and holding down the top spot in the national poll.
“It’s great to culminate my high school baseball career with a national championship,” pitcher Hans Hansen ’13 said. “Best feeling of my life.”
Players placed the CIF plaque on second base and huddled around the bag after the game to commemorate former teammate Chris Robinson ’14, a second baseman, who died of Leukemia in November of 2011.
Starting pitcher Jack Flaherty ’14 pitched a complete game shutout and also drove in the only run of the game with an RBI single in the third inning to score Rosenfeld. Flaherty, who was the losing pitcher each of the last two seasons when the Wolverines were knocked out of playoffs, was credited as the winning pitcher after throwing eight strikeouts along with six hits and one walk over seven shutout innings. He finished the season with a 13-0 record and a 0.63 ERA.
“Unbelievable journey,” Flaherty said. “It’s been great to do it with this group of guys. I’ve been with most of them since my freshman year. We’ve really grown together and it all just came together this year. It was a long, emotional journey this year, and I’m just glad we came out on top.”
Flaherty gave a lot of credit to his defense for helping him maintain the shutout. None of the infielders playing behind him were charged with an error during the game and defensive substitute Jackson Grayson ’15 had an assist from left field to throw a Marina player out at the plate in the seventh inning. With a runner on second and one out in the top of the seventh, Marina singled to left and the runner at second was waved home. Grayson who was brought in to left field for Ezra Steinberg ’15 in the seventh to play defense, fed catcher Arden Pabst ’13 for a play at the plate and prevented the tying run from scoring.
“I knew that with the runner on second, I was going to need a big play,” Grayson said. “I checked the runner to make sure that I was going to have a play, and I saw that he was just getting to third. I knew that if I made a good throw that he was going to be out by a mile, and I made a good throw and Arden blocked the plate perfectly.”
LaCour, who joined Harvard-Westlake in 2007 as the head coach of the baseball program, helped the Wolverines attain national prominence when several of his players were drafted out of high school into Major League baseball, including Austin Wilson ’10, Lucas Giolito ’12 and Max Fried ’12. Now, LaCour finally has his first CIF Championship with the Wolverines. Giolito, now a part of the Washington Nationals development system, called LaCour to offer congratulations just after the game had ended. Giolito watched the game online to support his alma mater.
“Obviously, he was a big part of building this program,” LaCour said. “It’s nice to have guys who are going on to do huge things still heavily involved in what we do.”
LaCour said that the team banquet is this Sunday and that the team will be celebrating the championship all weekend.
“We’ll let the kids go and do what they’re going to do, and the adults are going to do what we do,” LaCour said.
Follow this link for a photo gallery of the game: http://www.hwchronicle.com/photo/baseball-cif-championship-victory-over-marina/
Additional reporting by Robbie Loeb.