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Bishop Diego Blanked by No. 1 Faith Baptist in CIF Semifinal

CHATSWORTH —The tremendous turn-around season by the Bishop Diego baseball team came to an end Tuesday in the semifinals of the CIF-SS Division 7 playoffs.

The Cardinals had one bad inning against a solid Faith Baptist team and suffered a 5-0 defeat against the No. 1 seed at Sierra Canyon’s beautiful M.J. Siegel Stadium

The Contenders (22-1) strung together five hits to score four runs off Bishop starter Will Goodwin in the third inning. They scored their fifth run in the sixth en route to their 20th straight win.

“They had that one big inning,” Bishop Diego coach Ralph Molina said. “You take away that one big inning it would be a different game.”

Goodwin, who threw a complete-game three-hit shutout against Carnegie in the quarterfinals, was pitching on three days rest.

“We had to play our best game to win against these guys,” Molina said. “I took a chance and decided to pitch Will because the scouting report said they had eight home runs on the season, a lot of doubles and triples. They’re a fastball hitting team, so I made the decision to go with Will because he throws a lot of off-speed stuff. But he struggled a little bit, he didn’t seem as crisp. He came off a three-day rest. We talked about it yesterday and he said he felt fine. I don’t regret the decision.”

Molina said Goodwin told him, “ ‘I was throwing my best stuff and they were hitting it.’ I give credit to them, they did a nice job hitting the ball.”

Alfredo Cervantes got Faith Baptist going in the third with a lead-off single. With one out, he stole second and Mark Stupak was hit by a pitch. Joe Rasmussen ripped an opposite-field double down the right-field line to drive in both runners and went to third on a throwing error. Andrew Rasmussen hit an infield single over second base to score his cousin for the third run. Alex Wood, the Contenders’ starting pitcher, stroked a single to left-center to bring home Andrew Rasmussen for a 4-0 lead.

“We knew they were going to be a good ball club,” said Molina of Faith Baptist. “They were pretty solid all the way around. We hit the ball, they made the plays. Their pitcher was okay, he wasn’t overpowering but he had a good defense behind him and they rely on that. We just never got things going and that was the frustrating part. We didn’t get the big inning.”

The Cardinals had five hits, with Goodwin collecting two of them.

“We just never really got the big hit to move people over,” Molina said. “We never got that rally going. It’s one thing we’ve had the last four games. We’ve been able to get a couple of good rallies and we just couldn’t seem to get it this game.”

The Cardinals put two runners on in the third and fifth innings with two outs, but Wood came through each time to get the final out for Faith Baptist. Wood pitched 5.2 innings and Grant Rasmussen finished the game with a hitless 1.1 innings.

Faith Baptist coach Will Skett said Wood was effective with his fastball. 

“We were working on the fastball moving in and out,” he said. “Our defense, though, we played on a lot bigger field than we’re used to playing and long fly balls turned into outs here, so it worked in both our favors.”

Bishop's Jackson Haskell made a spectacular diving catch in deep left field in the fourth inning.

"I thought that ball was going to hit the fence and he just turned on the wheels and made a heck of a play," Molina said. "But that’s what these guys have been doing."

Skett said his players came into the season with the approach of learning and it’s made a huge difference. “If you don’t have that mentality to come in here and learn something than you’re not going to be effective on the baseball field. We’re fundamentally strong in pretty much all aspects of the game. Every single game we’ve always given ourselves a chance; we’ve never been out of any game.”

Molina said Bishop Diego (12-13) learned what takes to make it to a CIF Final, and he’s looking forward to next season.

“I’m excited because these guys have some ability and we got a lot coming back. Now we know what it takes,” he said. “The expectations are we’re going to be back and we’re going to take it one step further next year. We’re going to be in the finals next year.

“This year, nobody expected us to be here. Our kids didn’t even expect this. All of sudden they started believing.

"We could’ve quit when we were 1-8 and all of sudden we turned it around,” he continued. “You could see it, the kids were starting to come together and we ended up winning nine in a row and they played their best baseball the second half of the season. And these first couple of playoff games, they played really well. And it’s a young team.

“I think the kids realize the program is where it needs to be. We were there once before (1993 CIF runners-up) and it’s taken a long time to get back there. They’re just setting the tone.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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