GLENDORA -- A new team will be crowned in Division 2 this year.
Damien right-hander Chad Lee hurled a complete game and the Spartans battled back from a 4-1 deficit to upset defending champion Glendora, 6-4, in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 baseball playoffs Thursday afternoon. Lee held host Glendora scoreless in the final four innings, paving the way for Damien's comeback effort.
"We got one," Damien coach Al Leyva said. "Who would know about tomorrow, but today, when it counted, we got it."
The Spartans (16-12) tied it up at 4-4 in the fifth, capitalizing on a two-out fielding error by Glendora shortstop Martin Gallegos. J.J. Murillo beat out the throw at first, which allowed Lee to race home from second base. In the sixth, Damien scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error and tacked on an insurance run on a Dorian Granados RBI double, making the 10-minute bus ride back to La Verne all the more enjoyable.
"We didn't play our best game," Glendora coach Dan Henley said. "Always at the end of the year you're hoping to play your best game because you're going to be playing really good teams. We've been playing really good baseball as of late, fundamentally sound defense. We struggled with those phases. This is a tough one at the end [of the season]. Last game, we're done. Tomorrow we'll clean out the lockers and figure out what we're doing for the summer."
Glendora (17-7-1) won the Baseline League in its first year since moving over from the Sierra League and had won its first CIF title last season. Senior first baseman John Alexander, a UC Irvine commit, put the Tartans on the board in the first with his ninth home run of the season. He finished among the state's leaders in homers. Pitcher Sean Beckman absorbed the loss, falling to 9-3 on the season.
Lee (4-0) settled down after giving up three runs in the third.
"I think I just lost focus," Lee said. "After that I just pounded the zone. That's what's helped me the most of the year."
Damien, the Sierra League's third-place team, will play Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (18-11) in the second round Tuesday. Both teams had to go through the wild-card round.
"You just hope they want to play like this all the time," Leyva said. "Whether we're only 10 minutes away or four hours away, we want that same intensity."