But the Bears had unfinished business to attend to, namely the small matter of an undefeated league season.
And with an emphatic 20-5 win, bolstered by a 13-run third inning, Mission earned that distinction, finishing 14-0 in AAA play.
With the title already in hand, first-year Bears coach Winston Little debated the best way to approach the final two games of the league season, both of which came against Marshall. An undefeated campaign would be nice, but Little was leaning toward finding more playing time for his reserves.
He decided to put the question to his team: Should they go for perfection? The response, from Bears starters and bench players alike, was deafening.
“They made it clear to me that it would be a very special thing for Mission to go undefeated,” Little said. “I don’t believe we’ve done that in quite a while.”
Said junior Jose Valdivia: “We wanted our seniors to go out with a bang, undefeated. We really wanted to win this one for them.”
Mission scored three runs in the top of the first, helped in large part by a two-run single from Valdivia, the cleanup hitter.
It was the bottom half of the Bears’ batting order that helped key the big third inning, however. Marvin Ortiz (sixth), J.T. Werth (seventh) and Nick Diaz (ninth) hit RBI singles.
Twenty-two players come to the plate, and six walks, five hits and two passed balls later, a narrow 3-2 Mission lead had transformed into a 16-2 rout.
“In that third inning, we got everything going,” said Valdivia, who pitched the first two innings, giving up two runs on two hits.
“We haven’t been getting hitting from the top to the bottom of the order, and I think that started happening today,” Little said. “Our guys from the mid- to the bottom of the order got timely hits through the gaps in the infield.”
The playoffs begin April 29. Mission will play the No. 4-seeded team in AAA Division 1, which should be Galileo (4-5).
Marshall (9-5) got its runs in spectacular fashion, highlighted by home runs to right field from Costa Georgopoulos and Kevin Caceres. Georgopoulos’ solo shot came with two outs in the bottom of the first inning, and Caceres’ three-run blast came in the third.