With three Los Angeles City Section baseball titles on his résumé, coach Josh Lienhard knows all about winning championships.
Until Thursday, however, the former Kearny High and San Diego City College pitcher had never finished first in the Lions Tournament.
That changed when Lienhard’s Woodland Hills El Camino Real team beat Grossmont 3-2 in the semifinals at Torrey Pines, then hung on to edge host Cathedral Catholic 5-3 in the championship game of the Classic Division in the 66th annual event.
“I grew up playing in this tournament,” said Lienhard, a 1993 Kearny grad. “But there were only about three divisions then.
“I’ve been taking my El Camino Real teams down here since 2006. I love coming here.”
The Conquistadors (11-2) are tested in the L.A. City Section, though the bulk of the strong teams north of San Diego are in the Southern Section.
“There are always a bunch of good teams in the Lions,” Lienhard said. “The competition really helps us in our section.”
El Camino Real beat Poway (4-0), No. 7 St. Augustine (10-1) and No. 9 Helix (7-5 in 13 innings) in pool play.
After edging Grossmont in the noon semifinal, the Conquistadors banged out 10 hits and got a well-pitched game from Dane Reed to beat Cathedral.
Reed usually plays shortstop, but Lienhard says he doesn’t want to weaken his defense by having Reed pitch.
Leading 5-2 in the seventh at Cathedral Catholic (7-3), Reed gave up a double to Jordan Chang and a single to Patrick McLoughlin to start the inning.
That was the end of his outing. Austin Caulk greeted reliever Matt Morongell with a sacrifice fly. Jake Van Wey walked to put the tying runs on base.
The next hitter struck out, but Quinn Hoffman singled to load the bases. Jacob Allred brought the crowd to its feet with a fly ball to the warning track in right field that was caught to end the game.
“We had them on the ropes in the seventh,” said Cathedral coach Gary Remiker. “We slayed one giant in the semis (beating No. 1 Rancho Bernardo 3-1), but we came up a little short in this one.
“I loved the way we battled all day. I loved that we were in a position to win.
“El Camino Real is a very aggressive team. They love to run, bunt, squeeze. And when they got the lead
early (2-0 in the first inning), we couldn’t be as aggressive as we’d like.
“This tournament, especially the Classic Division, lives up to the hype.
“We played in the National High School Invitational in North Carolina a few years ago, and the Lions Tournament is a national-type event.”
The Dons are back in action Tuesday, traveling to El Capitan for the start of the East County vs. City Tournament.
Cathedral Catholic 3, Rancho Bernardo 1
Sam Miller retired the first 13 RB hitters and threw a complete-game four-hitter. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. Miller got a pair of popups to end the game after RB had scored a run and had runners on second and third with one out.
Rancho Bernardo made four errors, three in the fourth inning when the Dons scored all their runs.
El Camino Real 3, Grossmont 2
The Conquistadors scored two in the first, but Grossmont scored one in the second and one in the sixth
to make it a 3-2 game. Adam Lopez had two hits and an RBI for Grossmont (6-3) while Kannon Romero
pitched 3 2/3 innings of shutout relief.