Garfield pitcher Anthony Cardenas wondered if he would ever pitch at Dodger Stadium. After 6 2/3 innings, he was finally called up on Saturday afternoon to get out of the final with the tying runs on base. More than 2,000 Garfield fans, who were chanting “East LA”, rose to their feet.
Narbonne’s Mario Lopez didn’t make it easy. He sent a pitch from Cardenas into deep right field.
“At first my heart went a little slack,” Cardenas said, “but once I saw my outfielder slowly stepping back, it was fine.”
Demien Flores-Munoz made the detour just outside the warning lane, starting a celebration of Garfield’s victory with a 5-3 victory over Narbonne in the City Section Division I final, Garfield’s first championship since 1997.
A four-run sixth inning for Garfield gave the Bulldogs a 5-2 lead. Javier Cerda had the hit, an RBI single, to even the score. Then came a pitch to score another run, a passed ball to score a third and Daniel Canales’ RBI single.
Narbonne was unlucky in the third when it appeared Raymond Castro sent off Canales trying to score from the second. The referee disagreed, deeming him safe and allowing Garfield to reduce their deficit to 2-1.
Castro had two hits for Narbonne. Owen Martin hit a double and a triple for the Gauchos.
Cesar Ferrer allowed four hits and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings for Garfield.
The Bulldogs have played all season without a field while there is construction on campus. Their football pitch and track were used for training.
“It’s amazing and a privilege to play on this court,” Cardenas said.
Canales said of the team’s dedication, “Playing on the football field, waking up every day to do weight training, it means a lot to East Los Angeles.”
Coach Ruben Torres brought his 8-year-old son, Evan, to participate in pre-game activities with the team. Torres is simply thrilled that his community is so strongly supportive of students.
“We always travel well,” he said of fan attendance. “That’s why it’s a special place.”