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Marina bound for CIF final, Dodger Stadium

Vikings earn dramatic 6-5 win against Los Angeles Loyola in CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal game.

May 29, 2013|By Mike Sciacca
(SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

LONG BEACH — With two out and two strikes on him, and trailing by a single run in the bottom of the sixth inning Tuesday, Max Willingham delivered and the Marina High baseball team is on its way to Dodger Stadium.

Lucky No. 13, who bats No. 9 in the Marina lineup, sent a 1-2 pitch up the middle with bases loaded for a two-run single that ultimately proved the difference in the Vikings' come-from-behind, 6-5 victory over Los Angeles Loyola.

"I didn't hit the ball extremely hard. I was just hoping it would get through the infield," said Willingham, the senior who starts at second base and came up with his only hit of the game at its most crucial moment. "Once I saw it go through, I knew we had a shot.

"I've never been so excited in my life. To win like this, and to get to Dodger Stadium, is just unreal. This was a great win for our team."

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Marina's stunning rally in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal game at Blair Field catapulted the Vikings onward toward Friday's title game. The Vikings will meet North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake at 8 p.m. at Chavez Ravine.

The Vikings, who have won 15 of their last 17 games, will take a nine-game win streak into Friday's final.

Marina (22-8) is playing in its first Southern Section final since it won the 2003 Division 1 title under then-head coach Paul Renfrow.

Renfrow, still on the Marina staff, also took the Vikings to their first baseball title, the 5-A Division crown, in 1990.

It was a Sunset League vs. Mission League semifinal showdown at Blair Field Tuesday. Harvard-Westlake, which shared the Mission League title with Loyola and is the division's No. 3 seed, held off Los Alamitos, 3-2, in the second game.

Trailing, 5-3, and with the meat of its lineup coming to bat, junior Austin Sojka took the first pitch offered in the sixth by Loyola's Nathan Hadley for a single to right field. Designated and clean-up hitter, senior Casey Hayes, followed with a single that went past Cubs' diving third baseman Chad Powers and into right field. Sojka hustled to third base on the play to put runners at the corners.

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