VILLA PARK – JSerra pitcher David Horn picked a great time to have his best game of the season.
Horn gave up one run on four hits in six innings Tuesday and drove in two runs in the Lions’ 4-1 win over Villa Park in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
JSerra (22-10) will play Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks (24-7-1) in the championship game Friday at Cal State Fullerton. The game time will be announced Wednesday.
Notre Dame defeated Huntington Beach 2-0 in the other Division 1 semifinal Tuesday.
This will be JSerra’s second CIF-SS baseball final. The Lions lost 3-0 to Harvard-Westlake in last year’s Division 1 championship game. The Lions went on to win Division I in the CIF Southern California Regional playoffs last season.
Villa Park (25-5) continues its season in the regional playoffs that begin May 31.
Horn, a 6-3 senior right-hander, went into the game 4-4 with a 4.46 ERA.
“This year hasn’t quite been personally what I expected from myself,” said Horn, who signed with Vanderbilt.
He was confident, though, that he was ready to lead the Lions on Tuesday. Horn texted JSerra coach Brett Kay that he wanted to get the start against Villa Park.
“I said, ‘Hey, I want the ball,’” said Horn who struck out six Tuesday. “’I want to punch the ticket. I want to play for a championship again.’”
Kay said, “That’s the best outing we’ve seen from him all season.”
The Lions, who lost to Villa Park 11-3 in the Boras Classic South tournament championship game April 22, scored all of their runs in the first inning.
With one out Trent Caraway reached on an infield single. Lou Fujiwara and Owen Fuller were hit by pitches on back-to-back at-bats to load the bases. Jonathan Mendez pulled the first pitch he saw down the left-field line for a double to drive in Caraway and Fujiwara.
Horn’s hit to center field drove in Fuller and Mendez to make it 4-0. Horn was thrown out at second base when he tried to stretch his single into a double.
The Spartans got their run in the bottom of the seventh inning on an AJ Krodel single off of JSerra reliever Tyler Gough that drove in Jack Burke with no outs.
Gough struck out the next two batters, and then Villa Park’s sensational-hitting Gavin Grahovac (.404, team highs of five home runs and 24 RBIs) was intentionally walked. Gough struck out the next batter to end the game.
It’s been an interesting route to the Division 1 final for JSerra. The Lions on March 23 were 6-9 overall and 1-6 in the Trinity League. They then won nine in a row before the Boras Classic loss to Villa Park and won seven in a row after that including Tuesday’s win over Villa Park.
“They never quit on themselves,” said Kay, who has been JSerra’s coach since the 2007 season.
About Horn, Kay said: “What a fantastic performance by a senior leader. David Horn is one of the greatest kids we’ve ever had in our program. He deserves this.”