RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The Lions are in unexplored territory.
The Valley Christian Academy baseball team has qualified for its first semifinal in program history.
In a CIF Southern Section Division 7 quarterfinal playoff game Friday, the Lions roared past top-seeded United Christian Academy 14-4 in Rancho Cucamonga.
Timmy Trenkle hit a grand slam and finished with seven RBIs on the day. Andrew Sparlin started on the mound and went six innings, allowing just two earned runs while striking out eight. At one point, Sparlin struck out five straight batters.
VCA coach Pete Fortier says this is the furthest the Lions have ever been in the playoffs. His team will host El Monte Arroyo in a semifinal game on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m.
"Definitely going into the game, being the underdogs, it was an easier feeling than the last game when we were the favorite," Fortier said. "I was a little nervous, fearing that the guys were going to be overconfident. I was more nervous in the second round than today. But the boys came through and it was a great team win."
VCA is unseeded in the Division 7 bracket. The Lions started the postseason with a 6-4 win over Pacifica Christian of Santa Monica, then beat Hillcrest Christian at home on Tuesday. They then knocked off the No. 1 seed on the road Friday.
The Lions are 11-7-2 overall after three playoff wins. The Eagles finish their season with a 15-4 record after going 8-0 in the Arrowhead League.
VCA pounded out 11 hits, scoring five runs apiece in the fifth and sixth innings Friday. United Christian had four runs on nine hits with two errors. VCA also committed two errors.
The Lions had three doubles, with Jared Moore, Sam Moore and Richard Matias providing those.
Trenkle hit his grand slam in the fifth inning. Dylan Fulton also homered, hitting a two-run shot in the fourth inning. Fulton also came on to pitch in the seventh inning and closed out the game.
Jared Moore scored four times from the lead-off spot. Trenkle went 3-for-4 with the seven RBIs. Matias finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Fulton wound up 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Sam Moore went 2-for-5.
While the offense was humming along, Sparlin did a good job limiting the UCA offense.
"He walked the first batter, but had good control after that," Fortier said of Sparlin.
Fortier said the team will take the next few days to build up a scouting report on Arroyo. The Lions will have their full arsenal of pitchers ready for Tuesday after the pitching count resets with the start of a new week. Trenkle pitched in Tuesday's win over Hillcrest Christian.
"We’ll do some research and see what they have," Fortier said of Arroyo. "They won their quarterfinal 5-0. We know we've got a challenge and we know that since we beat the top seed that doesn't mean everyone is going to be easier to beat now.
"We didn’t look past this game by any means and we had our hands full today. This team has really gelled well and I hope it continues. We'll move on and focus on Tuesday's game coming up."
Arroyo is 13-8-1 on the season.