For whatever reason, the Warriors just didn't have it on Saturday.

Righetti's baseball team, the second seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs, played third-seeded Walnut for the divisional championship at UC Riverside's baseball complex.

The Mustangs scored early, striking for one run in the first inning. They then scored often, adding three runs in the second inning, one more in the fourth and a six-spot in the fifth, pulling away for a 13-2 win over the Warriors to claim the Division 3 title. 

The Mustangs pounded out 15 hits to score their 13 runs. The Warriors mustered just four hits. Walnut didn't commit any errors. The Warriors committed four.

All those factors combined for a performance Righetti coach Brian Tomooka couldn't quite figure out after his team had defended, pitched and hit when it needed to throughout the postseason. That didn't happen on Saturday. 

"I don't think it was one thing, they got a couple guys on base early in the first inning. Then we got a double play and we thought we might get out of it," Tomooka said. "Then their guy had a nice two-out hit to left field to score a run. Then that big one was the second inning, where we gave up some runs there and fell behind 4-0.

"It was just a combination of everything. Like I said, when you fall behind like that early, you always have a chance to come back and we've proven that before. But Walnut and those guys did a great job and their pitcher threw a great game and we couldn't get anything going."

This is the first title game appearance for Righetti since 1999. Walnut made the divisional final in 2015, where the Mustangs lost to Redondo Union.

Walnut third baseman James Arakawa led the Mustang offense. Arakawa went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and a run. He also walked once. Dylan Zavala went 2-for-4 with two RBIs as Walnut finishes its season with a 25-9 record.

The Warriors end their season with a 28-7 record and a PAC 8 League co-championship. 

Walnut starter Jacob Garcia, a left-hander, scattered four hits. Jaden LyBurtus, Righetti's junior center fielder, went 1-for-3 with a walk. Matt Sauer, Mitch Bagby and Joseph Boivin also singled for Righetti. Bagby and Boivin each drove in a run for the Warriors.

Garcia went 5 2-3 innings and gave up just one earned run while striking out six and walking one. Bagby, also a lefty, started for the Warriors and allowed one earned run on five hits in 1 2-3 innings. He faced 11 batters. Alex Castellanos relieved Bagby and lasted 2 2-3 innings, giving up six hits and five earned while striking out four batters. 

Hunter Bendele also pitched for the Warriors, relieving Castellanos, and gave up one earned on three hits. Josh Glazewski was the final Righetti pitcher, going the last two innings and giving up just one hit and striking out one while walking three. 

The Warriors gave up seven earned runs, while the other six were unearned. The Walnut lineup had an uncanny ability to create contact and work the count. The Mustangs walked six times and struck out just five times while piling up 15 hits, 14 of which were singles.

This Righetti group was experienced and talented. Tomooka will lose 11 seniors from this group, including Bagby, Boivin, Sauer, Bendele, Rudd, Castellanos, starting catcher Zach Andersen, starting shortstop Tanner Sampson, outfielder Bryce Gerritsen, backup catcher Josh Robinson and outfielder Seth Lopez. 

"It was a great group, I think the biggest thing was the leadership," Tomooka said. "Having these guys in the program four years. I can't say enough about them. It's a great group of guys that will do some great things."

It also marked the last high school game for Sauer, Righetti's ace who went 7-1 this year with a 1.03 ERA and 114 strikeouts and will likely be selected in the first round of the major league draft on June 12. 

"Oh man, this whole year was a lot of fun," Sauer said. "It sucks the way the game ended, but these are my brothers and I love them all to death."

Sauer felt the Warriors are a much better team than what they showed on Saturday.

"Just came out flat; didn't score runs," Sauer said. "Thought he was a hittable pitcher, we didn't get our jobs done on the defensive end. That's the outcome."

Sauer, a four-year varsity player, said he hasn't put much thought in to the upcoming MLB draft, making sure to enjoy his last high school season.

"I put all that stuff to the side and just play ball with my brothers," Sauer said. 

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Sports Editor

Alumni Fresno State