HUNTINGTON BEACH — Marina High's baseball team is headed next week to Long Beach.
It's the destination all CIF Southern Section Division 1 teams want to get to at this late stage of the prep season. It's the home to Blair Field, site of the Division 1 semifinals. Marina made its reservation for the division's Final Four on Friday by defeating visiting Agoura, 3-1.
The Vikings, runner-up to the Sunset League title, will take on Los Angeles Loyola in one semifinal game Tuesday. The Cubs moved on to the semifinals by defeating Riverside Poly, 9-4, Friday.
The other Division 1 semifinal game pits Marina's Sunset League rival, Los Alamitos, against No. 3-seeded Harvard-Westlake. Los Alamitos advanced by knocking off No. 2 seed El Toro, 4-1, and Harvard-Westlake shut down Santa Margarita, 5-0, in other quarterfinal round action Friday.
Marina will take an eight-game win streak into the semis, and this is a group that certainly has the look of a team on a mission.
"We've had the team to do this all year," said Marina Coach Bob Marshall who is taking the Vikings to their first semifinal appearance since 2003.
That year, the Vikings won the Division 1 championship under current Marina assistant coach, Paul Renfrow.
"Every since the Tustin game, this team has been outstanding," Marshall said. "Hitting, pitching, you name it. This team is so tight as a unit and they are enjoying playing the game of baseball. It shows."
The Marina senior class went out a winner in its final game on its home field. None had a bigger game offensively than Jake Bauers, in addition to Austin Olivas starring on the mound.
Bauers, a University of Hawaii commit, blasted two home runs to give the Vikings (21-8) all the runs they would need. Olivas contained No. 5-seeded Agoura (22-10, Marmonte League champion), went the distance and held the Chargers to their lowest run total in five weeks since a 4-1 loss to Moorpark on April 17.
Olivas allowed six hits and struck out three without yielding a walk.
The Chargers had outscored their first two playoff opponents, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Trabuco Hills, 21-9.
"He is our bulldog," Marshall said of the left-hander who improved to 7-3. "He's our big-game pitcher. He beat Lakewood on the road last year, and he's just so tough. He commands respect."
Agoura managed its only run on a fielding error by the Vikings. It came in the top of the fourth when Tyler Cohen hit a lead-off single and later scored from third base when Marina right-fielder Austin Sojka bobbled and dropped a fly ball by Bryce Fehmel.
That run drew the Chargers to within 2-1, but Marina got the run back in the bottom half of the inning.
Senior Tyler Mildenberg took the first pitch of the bottom of the fourth for a double off the top of the fence in right field. Junior Landon Marshall's sacrifice bunt moved Mildenberg to third, and Mildenberg scored on a run-scoring fly out to right field by senior Grant Mayeaux.
It gave the Vikings a two-run cushion at 3-1.
"That's Marina baseball right there," Marshall said. "We get a lead-off double, Landon lays down a sacrifice, and we score on a fly ball. It was great execution."
Then there was Bauers. Talk about execution.
He blasted his first home run to lead off the bottom of the first to give Marina the lead for good. In his second at-bat, he rocketed a shot to deep center field, past the 360-foot mark on the outfield fence in the third inning.
"That first home run had to go more than 400 feet," Marshall said. "He crushed it."
Agoura intentionally walked Bauers, who has four home runs during the postseason, in his third at-bat which came in the fifth inning.
"I was seeing the ball," Bauers said. "In my first at-bat, they came in on me on a 3-1 pitch, which surprised me. I just took it. That second one, I didn't think it was going out. I'm glad it did."
Agoura made a serious threat at the Marina lead in the top of the sixth by putting runners at second and third with two out. Olivas, however, got Fehmel to pop up on a full count to Bauers who made the catch on the first base side of the infield grass for the third out.
Olivas gave up a one-out single to Brandon Shearer in the top of the seventh, but then struck out the Chargers' Noah Shearer, and got Shawn Kagan to pop up to Mayeaux at shortstop for the final out of a game that took less than two hours to complete.
Marina's late-season run has catapulted the Vikings into the semifinals. Since facing Tustin at the Ryan Lemmon Invitational, a 5-0 loss to the Tillers on March 30, the Vikings have gone 14-2.
They have outscored their first three playoff foes, Norco, Thousand Oaks and Agoura, 16-6. Both Norco and Agoura were held to a single run.
Olivas also got the win in a complete-game, 2-1 victory against Norco on May 16.
"We're hot," Bauers said. "We're getting good pitching, timely hitting and we're really playing well right now. That's how you want to be playing at this point of the season."