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Serra Padres Earns Share of WCAL Title Serra Padres Earns Share of WCAL Title
The Padres cruised to a win on Friday thanks to a mammoth first inning. By the end of the first inning, the only question... Serra Padres Earns Share of WCAL Title

The Padres cruised to a win on Friday thanks to a mammoth first inning.

By the end of the first inning, the only question was if Serra would be celebrating an outright West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL )regular season championship or a shared one.

It turned out to be a shared crown, as Valley Christian held up its end of the bargain with a 3-0 win over St. Ignatius behind junior hurler Kole Laubach’s perfect game.

But it didn’t put a damper on the Padres’ celebrations at the end of their 13-2 win over the Mitty Monarchs, a win that was never in doubt thanks to a seven-run first inning.

It’s pretty awesome,” catcher Ian Armstrong said. “Our main goal was to hang a banner and leave our legacy behind.”

Armstrong knocked in the game’s first run with a single to left field, scored on a throwing error after Ian Josephson’s single, and cranked a towering homer over the screen in left during the third inning to pad the lead.

I’m so happy for this group,” first-year head coach Mat Keplinger said. “We have 18 seniors here, and this goes back to the fall. From day one, the guys were so bright-eyed and bought in from the start.”

Serra (20-5, 11-3 WCAL) started hot on Friday after Braden Agosta induced a double play to get out of the top of the first. Joey Damelio walked, Jake Downing was hit by a pitch and Armstrong singled in the game’s first run after Mason Manglicmot robbed Josiah Rodriguez with a diving grab in center field.

Josephson’s single scored Downing, and when the right fielder’s throw went out of play, Armstrong was awarded the plate as well. Evan Bradshaw knocked in Josephson with a single and Justin Sechler scored Bradshaw with a double, then came around to score on Lucas Schumaker’s single up the middle. Michael Perazzo doubled after Schumaker was caught stealing and ultimately scored on a balk to cap off an inning that saw the Padres send 13 men to the plate.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the hosts, though. A two-out error plated two Monarch runs in the second inning and Agosta, plagued by command issues, was pulled after recording just six outs. But lefty reliever Mason Wehmeyer came in to steady the ship, allowing just two hits and striking out three over three scoreless innings.

Mason’s been great in that role all year. He’s as competitive as they come,”  Keplinger said. “He has a four-pitch mix and moves his fastball from side to side. That’s what we count on him to do, come in and stabilize games.”

Downing smashed a homer that landed on the football field in the third, and Armstrong followed with a two-run shot to make it 10-2. The hosts added three more runs in the fifth on a Kevin Macy RBI single, and grounders from Sechler and Jaden Lim.

It was the first hit of the year for Macy, a senior who underwent open-heart surgery during his sophomore year.

“It was a little tricky early on, knowing our goal was to get everyone in, but we’re playing for a league title,” Keplinger said. “The 7 spot in the first helped. For everybody to get in was awesome.”

Ethan Kassel

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