Valley News -

By JP Raineri
Sports Editor 

Great Oak claims first ever CIF Southern Section Baseball Championship

Wolfpack beats La Canada 7-0 at Dodger Stadium


Last updated 5/20/2019 at 10:16am

David Canales

Five in a row. That is what Great Oak Head Coach Eric Morton stressed to his players since the beginning of the season.

"I told them we needed to get off to a good start, win the first five games of the season. If you can do that, you can win the last five games too," Morton said.

That's exactly what the Great Oak players did. Outside of a tie ballgame against Centennial (2-2), the Wolfpack won their next five games and not only did they win their last five, which mattered most, they completed their season with a 7-0 win over La Canada in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 Finals at Dodger Stadium.

At this time last year Morton was unsure if he would return to coaching after taking a year off and assuming the role of athletic director at Great Oak High School, but now with this win, he is assured he made the right move. The Wolfpack were 13-15 last year and finished in fourth place in the Southwestern League, while seeing two head coaches assume the role during Morton's single season absence. This year, while Great Oak took the No. 4 seed in Division 3, it was a battle through and through to get the playoffs Morton said. "We had a lot of momentum coming down the stretch and were neck and neck with Temecula Valley for second place. Vista Murrieta had one of the best season's anyone has ever seen in the Southwestern League, from the top to the bottom, teams like Murrieta Mesa and Chaparral also gave us a hard time and for us to make it this far is a true testament to how tough this league is and always will be."

In the CIF Southern Section Finals, it was senior right-hander Cameron Mabee who was phenomenal on both sides of the field, both offensively and defensively. Mabee took a perfect game into the sixth inning on the mound and then helped the Wolfpack bust the game open when he lined a shot into deep center for an inning-opening double in the fourth. That opened the door for Great Oak to bat around, score seven runs, and with strike throwing senior on the bump, Cameron would close the door on the Spartans in Great Oak's 7-0 defeat of La Canada in the Division 3 baseball final at Dodger Stadium.

"Most teams know him as a pitcher, but he's had a great offensive year," Great Oak coach Eric Morton said about Mabee, who hit .289 with 19 RBIs this year.

The Cal Poly Pomona-bound pitcher was virtually untouchable, striking out eight, walking one and allowing only Zach Feehan's line single in the sixth inning.

"I just kept thinking about winning the next pitch," Mabee said. "There were times I found myself thinking about all the greats that have thrown on this mound, like Clayton Kershaw, Sandy Koufax and of course Max Scherzer, who was just on this mound last weekend with the Nationals. It's an awesome feeling."

Then game was knotted up with no runs on the board when the Wolfpack offense came alive in the fourth inning. Great Oak would send 12 batters to the plate, collecting five hits, a walk and had two sacrifices, including a safety squeeze by Jacob Fisher that scored Ethan Wayer. Fisher's squeeze was one of four bunts Morton called for, which were all were productive in either scoring runners or advancing them.

TIme Stood Still Photography

"We went small ball and it worked. Normally with your four through six hitters, you're not asking for bunts, but in this situation, I called for it and they did a great job," Morton said when referring to cleanup hitter Wayer, No. 5 hitter Isaiah Lopez and No. 6 Fisher.

Junior outfielder, Luke Jepsen, went 3-for-3 with an RBI and had 2 stolen bases to lead the Wolfpack offensively. There will be much celebrating in the coming weeks for Great Oak as they wrap up their season with everything that comes with being CIF Championships and begin the journey for next season. The Great Oak administration already have a rally planned, and the City of Temecula will be acknowledging the winning team at a future date and time as well.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at [email protected]


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