LOS ANGELES — With seven seniors in the starting lineup, Coach Joe Romero told his Lincoln High baseball players from the beginning that the Tigers season should end in Dodger Stadium.
“I told them that anything less would be unacceptable,” Romero said. “This was a special group of kids and they believed that they could make it.”
Not only did Lincoln finish the season in Dodger Stadium, the top-seeded Tigers left Chavez Ravine Saturday with the City Section Division II championship after defeating No. 19 Chavez, 3-0.
The City title is Lincoln’s first since 1935 and fourth overall.
Sophomore Issac Cota and senior Hugo Avendano combined on a three-hit shutout to lead the way. Lincoln scored three runs on only two hits in the first inning and played stellar defense behind Cota and Avendano, and it was all they would need.
With Avendano having worked seven innings in Lincoln’s semifinal victory over South Gate four days earlier, Cota got the start.
“He kept the ball low, stayed around the plate the whole game, and he took speed off the ball when we needed him to,” said Romero in assessing Cota’s work.
Cota expected to work three innings, but was relieved by Avendano after the fifth inning.
“My splitter was working today and I was hitting all my spots and staying ahead of the batters,” Cota said. “That and I had solid defense behind me. Our defense has been great all year.”
Backed by a supportive crowd that made up most of the estimated 1,500 in attendance, Lincoln took advantage of a shaky Chavez team in the first inning.
Matthew Castro walked to lead off and Christian Frias singled. Julian Vidal hit a ground ball that resulted in a throwing error and allowed Castro to score. A single by Angel Valadez and a bases-loaded walk to Albert Ramirez scored two more runs.
But Lincoln was unable to solve Chavez’s Gunner Orozco after that. Orozco retired 11 of the next 12 Lincoln batters he faced before giving up a walk in the fifth inning.
Saturday’s championship was the second meeting of the year between Lincoln and San Fernando-based Chavez. The Tigers won the first game, 10-0.
“I was concerned that we would think back to that and become complacent, especially since we were the No. 1 seed and they were the 19th,” Romero said.
“Vidal and Valadez, our 3-4 hitters struggled today, but our defense was solid and the boys battled, he added. “Luckily pitching kept us in the game.”
Lincoln finished the championship season15-6, winning 11 of its last 12. Chavez, which forfeited six victories, was 8-17.