Spartans Pick Up Historic Semifinal Victory

LCHS varsity baseball team
Photo courtesy Yary Photography
The LCHS varsity baseball team defeated Hesperia Oak Hills, 13-2, in a CIF-SS Division 3 semifinal on Tuesday. The Spartans, who advanced to their first CIF-SS championship game, include Connor Buchanan, Michael Callahan, Thomas Decker, Zach Feehan, Luke Fogarty, Ryan Graves, Joshua Gray, William Hartman, Ryan Kiessling, Riley Kozakar, Michael Lauenstein, Jason McCubbin, Kyle Osornia, Timothy Park, Brandon Shepherd, Ian Tinkham, Jakob Torres, Evan Umland, Tai Walton, coaches Carl Geschwender and Dave Olson and head coach Matt Whisenant.

There’s no stopping the La Cañada High School varsity baseball team. After two narrow playoff victories decided in extra innings, the Spartans made sure they wouldn’t need more than seven frames against host Hesperia Oak Hills. They scored five runs in the top of the third and added six more two frames later to build a big lead and defeat the Bulldogs, 13-2, in a CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinal.
The Spartans (22-7 overall record), who played their first semifinal since 1984, made history in advancing to the CIF-SS title game for the first time in the school’s 56-year history. They will face Temecula Great Oak at Dodger Stadium this Saturday at noon.
“It’s incredibly rewarding,” said LCHS head coach Matt Whisenant, who played for the Spartans and had a four-year career in Major League Baseball. “Personally, it’s very satisfying as a coach but even more satisfying to see the joy that the kids are having with this big accomplishment. To be able to go and play at Dodger Stadium is a dream.”
Connor Buchanan belted two home runs and drove in a team-high five runs and pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing only two runs on seven hits and striking out five. Evan Umland relieved him and pitched a perfect 2 1/3 innings with three strikeouts.
“Connor is an amazing talent,” Whisenant said. “He has a great gift. He as all the physical attributes, he is mentally tough and what people don’t see is how hard he works. He prepares as well as anybody. ”
Not to be outdone, fellow senior Tai Walton also hit two home runs and drove in three runs. Mike Lauenstein tripled, scored and had two runs batted in, Timmy Park doubled, scored twice and had one RBI, Ian Tinkham doubled, scored and drove in a run, Jakob Torres collected two hits and score two runs, Zach Feehan had an RBI and Liam Hartman scored a run.
The rout over Oak Hills came after two extra-inning affairs against Downey Warren and Ocean View of Huntington Beach. The Spartans needed nine innings to defeat host Downey Warren, 2-1, in a second-round game, and 11 frames to edge visiting Ocean View, 2-1, in a quarterfinal last week. Twenty innings in a few days certainly hardened La Cañada going into its semifinal.
“I give so much credit to the boys and the way they fought, especially in what I thought was a defining moment playing at Warren, playing to our last out,” Whisenant said. “When you start winning games in that fashion, it’s just an incredible confidence builder. They fed off it. We were as loose as we could be [against Oak Hills]. That comes with what they’ve been through.”

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