DARK-HORSE CHAMPION 15TH-SEEDED CLEVELAND SHUTS OUT NO. 1 SYLMAR CLEVELAND 1, SYLMAR 0.
Cleveland High pitchers and championship game shutouts apparently go well together.
Byron Grubman couldn't match the no-hit performance of Bret Saberhagen in Cleveland of Reseda's last appearance in the City baseball final in 1982, but Grubman did become the first since Saberhagen to pitch a shutout in the City baseball final.
Grubman threw a three-hitter to outduel Sylmar ace Jamie Mah and complete 15th-seeded Cleveland's improbable run through the playoffs with a 1-0 victory over the No. 1 Spartans on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.
``This is amazing,'' said Grubman after Cavaliers freshman center fielder Trevor Arroyo clinched the victory with a diving catch of Davis Luna's sinking line drive. ``For me and Robert Marcial especially, this is payoff for four years of hard work.''
After Mah led off the fourth with a double, making him the first Spartan to advance past first, Grubman retired the next nine batters in a row. Mike Garcia ended the streak with a leadoff single in the seventh, but Grubman struck out the next two batters and Arroyo's catch provided the final out.
The performance was typical of Grubman in the postseason, where he is known for being at his best. Grubman (9-3) went 3-0 in the Cavaliers' four playoff games this year. The senior right-hander allowed 14 total hits and one run. The shutout was the second in a row for Grubman, who pitched a five-hit shutout against defending City champion Chatsworth in last week's semifinal.
``The only time I remember (a streak like this) was last year,'' Grubman said. ``I caught fire at the end, just like this time.''
Last year's streak was fresh in Grubman's memory since he and his dad recently looked through some old newspaper articles written about the team. They came across a story from last year's season finale. In that story, Grubman, who had just pitched his team to the lower-level Invitational title at Dodger Stadium, proclaimed he would be back on the same mound a year later, but this time for City championship.
Grubman nearly missed out on the chance to keep his word since the Cavaliers finished fourth in the West Valley League, and getting that many teams from one league into the upper bracket is a rarity. However, the Cavaliers squeezed in at No. 15 and started the upsets with an opening- round victory over No. 2 Roosevelt of Los Angels. No. 7 Poly of Sun Valley and No. 6 Chatsworth followed.
``We felt we would have made it anyway, no matter what seed,'' Grubman said. ``Just getting in was the key.''
Cleveland (21-11) was only one of four teams to defeat Sylmar (27-5) during the regular season, but that was during an early-season tournament game in which multiple Spartans starters were being eased back from injury. Sylmar entered the final with 20 consecutive victories.
``Once it gets to the championship, it's baseball,'' Mah said. ``We knew it would be a well-played game that could go either way.''
A few mistakes ended up being the difference.
Grubman gave the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead in the second inning without a hit. He led off the inning being hit by a pitch. Mah's two-base throwing error put Grubman on third, from where he scored on Matt Jordan's sacrifice fly to center.
Grubman, who had only four strikeouts, was helped by defensive plays such as the one shortstop Marcial made in the sixth inning, ranging to the opposite side of second base to grab a grounder by Scott Cohen and fire to first in time for the second out of the inning.
Mah (7-1) wasn't much more generous as a pitcher. He allowed three hits, but the player usually know for his outstanding fielding as a shortstop hurt himself with wild pickoff throws.
In addition to the second-inning miscue, Mah got in trouble in the third after issuing a one-out walk to Cleveland speedster Marcial. An attempted pickoff throw to first was wild, and second baseman Scott Cohen made another error on the backup, allowing Marcial to advance to third, where he was stranded.
2 photos, box
(1 -- color) Cleveland High pitcher Byron Grubman is congratulated in the first inning after scoring the game's only run.
(2) Cleveland's Robert Marcial tosses the ball to a teammate after tagging out Sylmar's Alex Chavez.
David Sprague/Staff Photographer
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jun 5, 2002|
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