JSerra baseball beats Mater Dei behind strong outing from Matt Champion – Orange County Register

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SANTA ANA – JSerra lost its first two Trinity League games of this season last week against Orange Lutheran before winning the finale of the three-game series.

The Lions improved to 2-2 in league Tuesday with a 5-1 win over Mater Dei at Mater Dei High.

JSerra senior right-hander Matt Champion pitched 6⅓ innings and allowed one earned run on six hits. Champion, All-Orange County first team last season and an Oregon signee, had six strikeouts and one walk.

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“We needed ‘Champ’ to be ‘Champ,’” JSerra coach Brett Kay said. “I thought he was for the most part. (The Monarchs) had a few hits but he pitched out of those moments.”

Kay, in his 18th season as JSerra’s coach, said Tuesday’s win could be a momentum push for the Lions after Friday’s 3-0 win over Orange County No. 1 Orange Lutheran.

“We’re finally, slowly, starting to come together,” Kay said.

Champion said he pitched Tuesday the way he always wants to pitch.

“I was getting a lot of ground ball outs and a lot of first-pitch outs as well,” Champion said. “That’s my goal, to get ground balls and get outs.”

Lions junior third baseman Jordan Marian reached base three times, including two hits, and drove in a run. Senior center fielder Dimitri Susidko hit a solo home run for the Lions, who improved to 6-5-1 overall.

Mater Dei is 7-3 overall and 2-2 in league. The Monarchs beat Servite last week in two of their three league games.

JSerra is No. 2 in the Orange County Top 25 and Mater Dei is No. 5.

The Lions loaded the bases in the top of the first inning on three consecutive walks by Tyler Dunning, Gavin Flores and Marian. Takahashi Rutherford drove in Dunning with a sacrifice fly to left field.

Susidko’s home run over the left-field fence led off the second inning for a 2-0 lead.

Marian led off the third inning with a single. He advanced to second base when Rutherford walked. A sacrifice bunt by Marcus Greis sent Marian to third base and Rutherford to second, and Marian scored on Carter Meza’s pinch-hit, ground ball single up the middle to make it 3-0.

An errant throw on a rundown play later in the third inning enabled Rutherford to score from third base to push the lead to 4-0.

Mater Dei got its run in the bottom of the third. Braden Ruiz led off with a single and moved to second base on Antonio Ganem’s single. Brody Connors followed with a hard-hit grounder over second base that JSerra shortstop Greis snagged with a diving effort, but the ball wriggled out of his glove to allow Ruiz to score.

JSerra increased the lead to 5-1 in the the top of the fourth inning. Andrew Padrova, pinch-running for Dunning who had singled, advanced to third base on Flores’ double into the right-center field gap and scored on Marian’s ground out to shortstop Ruiz.

Mater Dei and JSerra play the second game of their three-game league series Wednesday at JSerra High at 4 p.m. The third game is at Mater Dei on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

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