RATES       _______________________________ LM __________________________________

NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Calvo, La Mirada baseball edge Gahr to wrap up first Gateway League title

The La Mirada High baseball team, fresh off the heels of a 2-1 win against Gahr High this past Wednesday, celebrates the program’s seventh straight outright league title and 51st consecutive league victory.PHOTO BY LOREN KOPFF.

April 27, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

The name of the league may be different, but the result is still the same for the La Mirada High baseball team. Behind a stellar pitching performance that began with junior Walker Calvo and ended with senior Pablo Hidalgo, the Matadores had enough to get past Gahr High 2-1 this past Wednesday at John Glenn High.

In the process, La Mirada won its seventh straight outright league title and first in the new Gateway League. The Matadores, ranked 10th in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 poll, improved to 20-6 overall, 11-0 in league, won their fifth straight game and eight of their last nine.

“That team is a top-10 ranked team in the state,” said La Mirada head coach Jimmy Zurn, referring to Gahr. “[Gahr head coach] Gerardo [Perez] does a hell of a job. They’ve been highly ranked the entire year. They’ve had a great schedule. They’re going to make a great run in the playoffs. So yeah, I guess there’s a little [special feeling], especially being a new league. It’s always nice to win the first one; it can never be taken away in the record books. But they’re all special.”

Like a heavyweight bout that went 15 rounds, Calvo worked the first four innings, a day after he closed La Mirada’s 4-3 victory over the Gladiators while Gahr (20-6-1, 8-3) countered with senior Jaden Alba, who went the distance for the fifth time this season. The Matadores drew first blood with two outs in the bottom of the first inning as sophomore first baseman Maverek Russell beat out an infield single, went to second on an infield hit from senior right fielder Benjamin Kim and scored on a single from senior third baseman Eric Jeon.

After Alba worked a perfect second, La Mirada added what turned out to be the game-winner when sophomore shortstop Aiden Aguayo launched a one-out home run over the left field fence. One out later, Kim singled to left and moved to second on a wild pitch before being stranded there. Alba would not allow another hit the rest of the way, working a perfect fourth and sixth, and finished the contest with eight strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Calvo had yielded three hits through the first four innings before Zurn replaced him with senior Cameron Trevino in the fifth. That’s when the Gladiators, the top-ranked team in Division 2 who have now lost four of the last six after winning 14 straight, scored their only run. With two outs, Trevino walked Alba, who was replaced by senior pinch runner Joshua Escobar. Junior left fielder Mike Lee was then hit by a pitch and on a 1-2 count, senior shortstop Kyle Panganiban’s base hit plated Escobar.

Lee would get caught in a rundown to end the inning and Hidalgo would work the final two innings, throwing 25 pitches, facing the minimum, getting three groundouts and three flyouts.

With both teams possessing some of the best pitching staffs in the Southland, this past Tuesday’s result dictated Zurn’s decision to start Calvo instead of sophomore Donald Murray, who is 4-1 and will start Friday’s regular season finale with Gahr. Calvo improved his season mark to 5-0.

“Yesterday was kind of like a bullpen [day],” said Zurn of Calvo. “I think he threw 14 pitches. I asked him today…I said we weren’t going to make a decision yet. I go, how do you feel? He goes, ‘I’m ready, let’s go’. With us, having two [games] up [in the standings] with two to play made that decision a little bit easier. So that was nice to get Murray a little bit more time.”

Not only did the Matadores win their seventh straight outright league title, but they also picked up their 51stconsecutive league win. The last time La Mirada fell in a league contest was on May 3, 2017, a 4-0 setback to Mayfair High.

“I didn’t realize that,” said Zurn of the streak. “Again, it’s a tribute to our kids. If you don’t take care of league…in a single elimination playoff format, you want to give yourself the best chance to make a run. You want that home game; it’s so valuable to get that home game. You don’t really get it, especially in D1 unless you win your league.”

In other baseball action, Cerritos High was looking to wrap up its fourth straight 605 League title outright but was upset by Oxford Academy 6-4 this past Tuesday. The Dons dropped to 16-9, 6-1 as the teams faced each other again at Cerritos on Apr. 27 to end the regular season. A Cerritos win will mean both teams will be co-champions with Artesia High locking up third place after knocking off John Glenn High 5-0 this past Tuesday. The Pioneers improved to 9-13, 3-4 while the Eagles fell to 5-11, 1-6 as they met at Artesia on Apr. 27.


Norwalk High had already won the league title but was still going for an undefeated league mark. The Lancers, ranked third in Division 6, visited second place Mayfair High this past Wednesday and edged the Monsoons 3-2, improving to 20-4, 14-0. Norwalk will end the regular season at Lynwood High on Friday and becomes the third area team with at least 20 wins.


Valley Christian High smashed Heritage Christian High 22-5 this past Tuesday to improve to 8-11 overall, 5-6 in league. The Defenders are tied for third place Whittier Christian High while Village Christian High is in second place with a 6-5 mark. Valley Christian hosted the Warriors on Apr. 27 before visiting St. Anthony High on Friday in the regular season finale. Should the three teams finish with a 6-6 mark, Valley Christian won the season series against Whittier Christian while Village Christian took two of three from the Defenders. 


Artesia, ranked sixth in Division 6, knocked off John Glenn 7-1 this past Tuesday to finish the regular season at 12-7, 6-4 and locked down third place. The loss by Glenn, ranked two spots higher than Artesia, gave Cerritos its third straight outright league title and fifth in the last six seasons. Cerritos entered its Apr. 27 make-up game with Glenn at 14-2, 9-0 while Glenn dropped to 14-2-2, 7-2. 


Just like the baseball side of the league, the softball side was just as competitive with La Mirada, ranked seventh in Division 1 having already won the circuit. The Matadores hosted Downey High on Apr. 27 while Gahr smashed Warren High 9-1 this past Tuesday to improve to 11-10-2, 4-4 and can do no worse than third place or at best, a three-way tie for second with Warren and Mayfair High. 


Unranked Norwalk took its 16-5, 9-0 record into its Apr. 27 contest at Lynwood. The Lancers already wrapped up their first league title since 2016 and have two league crowns since 1999. The five losses are also the fewest in over 26 seasons, not including the 2020 Covid season when Norwalk went 6-3.


Valley Christian ended the regular season with a 21-16 win over Heritage Christian this past Wednesday, improving to 7-5, 5-3 and tying Village Christian for second place. The Defenders, ranked fifth in Division 6, are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2018 and have their first winning season since 2012 when that team went 18-9. Valley Christian has not had a winning league campaign since 2015 when that team finished 5-3 and tied for second place. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *