Prep roundup: Seth Hernandez's two-run home run sends Corona into Division 1 final

When Seth Hernandez sent a change-up flying over the left-field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning for a two-run home run, he was so pumped it took him some 24 seconds to round the bases before being engulfed by delirious Corona teammates.

“It was heat of the moment,” catcher Josh Springer said.

The home run broke a 1-1 tie and lifted the top-seeded Panthers to a 3-1 Southern Section Division 1 semifinal victory over Huntington Beach on Tuesday, advancing them to Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game at Lake Elsinore’s Storm Stadium.

Hernandez also threw six innings, striking out six, walking two and giving up four hits. He had a 1-0 lead after scoring on a wild pitch in the fourth. Huntington Beach sophomore CJ Weinstein tied the score with his own flashy home run to right field in the top of the sixth.

Corona coach Andy Wise said he’s never surprised at anything Hernandez does. The junior could be the No. 1 or No. 2 player taken in next year’s amateur draft.

“He’s amazing,” Wise said.

Tyler Bellerose was matching Hernandez on the mound, giving up one run in five innings. Freshman Jared Grindlinger replaced him in the sixth. Brady Ebel reached base when a pop fly in front of home plate dropped for a single. Then Hernandez unloaded with a powerful swing. Corona (29-3) has hit a series of clutch home runs in the playoffs to put the Panthers within one win of becoming the first No. 1 seed to win the Division 1 championship since Camarillo in 2002. That’s how tough it is to make it through the Division 1 playoffs as the favorite.

“I really don’t feel pressure,” Wise said. “These guys don’t need a jockey cracking the whip. These are high-end competitive guys.”

Corona has well-rested standout pitcher Ethan Schiefelbein ready to pitch Saturday. And Springer, the catcher, recently moved to Lake Elsinore, so he could walk to the stadium and perhaps have a party afterward if the team wins.

Hart 7, Arcadia 2: The Indians refuse to let coach Jim Ozella retire after 25 seasons until they can send him out with a championship. They are one win from a Division 2 championship after using a five-run fifth inning to win a semifinal game. Cameron Maymo threw 5 2/3 innings and Ian Edwards earned a save.

Moorpark 7, Ayala 5: Cameron Johnson had three hits and two RBIs for the Musketeers, who advanced to the Division 2 final under first-year coach Aaron Garcia. Moorpark overcame a 5-0 deficit.

St. John Bosco 2, South Torrance 1: The Braves scored two runs in the top of the seventh to reach the Division 3 final. Anthony Cosme threw a complete game. Noah Perez had an RBI single to break a 1-1 deadlock.

Beckman 3, Los Alamitos 0: Rex Jarcy threw a six-hit shutout to lift Beckman into the Division 3 final. He struck out three and walked none.

St. Francis 3, Ontario Christian 1: The Golden Knights advanced to the Division 4 championship game. Aidan Mahoney threw 6 1/3 innings, striking out five with no walks.

Camarillo 6, Culver City 4: Boston Bateman homered, Tommy Goodin tripled and the top-seeded Scorpions moved into the Division 4 championship game. Camarillo will have its ace, Bateman, ready to pitch in the final. Bateman had two hits and three RBIs.

Santa Monica 4, Oxnard Pacifica 0: The Vikings haven’t won a baseball championship since the early 1970s, but they will play for the Division 5 title. Eddie Jennings threw a complete game and Jackson Myrow had a home run and two RBIs. Santa Monica will face Chino Hills, a 2-0 winner over Chino.


Granada Hills 6, El Camino Real 1: The top-seeded Highlanders won their City Section Open Division semifinal behind pitcher Addison Moorman, who struck out 10, walked one and gave up three hits. Granada Hills will play Carson in Saturday’s 7 p.m. final at Long Beach State in a rematch of last season’s final won by the Colts 12-11. Jocelyn Jimenez had three hits and two RBIs.

Carson 5, Birmingham 1: Ruby Grajeda had two hits and two RBIs to help the Colts upset No. 2-seeded Birmingham. Giselle Pantoja struck out seven.

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