Prep Rally: Recapping two memorable City baseball finals at Dodger Stadium (2024)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. Dodger Stadium brought out the best in two memorable City Section finals.

Bell makes history

There’s nobody on Earth except for the most loyal fans of Bell baseball who envisioned the Eagles doing something they had never done: win the City Section Open Division championship at Dodger Stadium. It happened on Saturday with a 4-1 win over Birmingham. Bell gave up one run in three playoff wins over long-time San Fernando Valley baseball powers Sylmar, Granada Hills and Birmingham. Bell hadn’t made the upper division final since 1953.

Highlight from Saturday at Dodger Stadium. David Gonzalez RBI single for Bell in sixth inning.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 27, 2024

And yet, coach Frank Medina sincerely believed his players could do it despite a roster loaded with freshmen, sophom*ores and juniors. He coached aggressively and taught fundamentals that saw the Eagles play near flawless defense, make routine plays and get clutch hits when needed from sophom*ore David Gonzalez.

The Open Division champions. Bell Eagles

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 25, 2024


Of course, the star of this team has been sophom*ore Jayden Rojas on the mound and at the plate. He’s so tough mentally he threw six shutout innings and got out of a bases loaded, no outs situation in the sixth by getting a strikeout and consecutive fly-ball outs. When Bell fans were chanting, ‘M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P,” they were not joking. He deserves to be the City Section player of the year.

“I felt like I was a real MLB player at that point,” Rojas said of the crowd’s chants.

Here’s the story from Dodger Stadium.

And here’s the story from Bell’s semifinal upset of top-seeded Granada Hills.

Prep Rally: Recapping two memorable City baseball finals at Dodger Stadium (1)

Nick Park of North Hollywood leaps for joy in the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium. He hit his second triple to drive in the winning run in a 3-1 win over Banning in the City Section Division I final.

(Craig Weston)

North Hollywood won the City Division I title 3-1 in eight innings over Banning on the strength of three hits, including two triples, by Nick Park.

Here’s the report.


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State regionals

The Southern California regional playoffs in baseball and softball begin on Tuesday even though lots of section champions in both sports have opted out. In baseball, not playing are Southern Section champions Corona (Division 1), Hart (Division 2) and Beckman (Division 3). In softball, City champion Carson isn’t playing, along with Southern Section Division 1 champion Pacifica.

In Division II, City Section champion Bell will open on the road against Southern Section Division 2 runner-up Moorpark. Orange Lutheran is seeded No. 1 in Division I.

In softball, Murrieta Mesa is seeded No. 1 in Division I. City runner-up Granada Hills is seeded No. 2 in Division II.


Here’s the link to complete pairings.


Prep Rally: Recapping two memorable City baseball finals at Dodger Stadium (2)

Ventura’s Sadie Engelhardt leads the field during the girls’ 1,600 meters at the CIF state track and field championships at Buchanan High School in Clovis on May 25, 2024.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

The state track and field championships in Clovis saw another state record produced by Sadie Engelhardt of Ventura in the 1,600. Next season she has a chance to be a four-time winner.

Prep Rally: Recapping two memorable City baseball finals at Dodger Stadium (3)

Birmingham’s Deshawn Banks competes in the high jump on his way to winning the state title in the event at Buchanan High School in Clovis on May 25, 2024.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Another story was the rise of Deshawn Banks of Birmingham in the high jump. He won the state championship with a career-best mark of 7-00.50. The former basketball player has only been competing in the event since last year.

When he cleared 7 feet, he celebrated with a series of backflips.

Long Beach Poly won the boys championship and Long Beach Wilson won the girls title.

Here’s the report from Clovis.

And here’s a report from the prelims featuring Culver City’s two 400 runners.

Prep Rally: Recapping two memorable City baseball finals at Dodger Stadium (4)

Evan Noonan of Dana Hills wins the state title in the boys’ 3,200 meters at Buchanan High School in Clovis on May 25, 2024.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

The summer season of seven on seven passing tournaments has begun. There’s tournaments June 29 at St. John Bosco and Simi Valley and the No. 1 tournament is July 13 at Edison.

Jeff Magdaleno is the new football coach at St. Anthony, replacing Raul Lara, who left for Mater Dei. He has been an assistant at the University of La Verne and was a defensive analyst at Nevada.

In this week's episode of 'Friday Night Live,' @latsondheimer + @RandyRosenbloom talk to Palos Verdes quarterback Ryan Rakowski about his amazing freshman season and what he hopes to accomplish in the summer and fall.

— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) May 24, 2024

Cornerback Adonyss Currie from Quartz Hill has committed to Texas A&M.

UCLA has picked up a commitment from quarterback Madden Iamaleava of Warren. His brother is the quarterback at Tennessee.

Garden Grove has named Matthew LemMon as its football coach.

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Notes . . .

Brad Metz, a former Hart baseball assistant coach, is returning as head coach to replace the retiring Jim Ozella. He was head coach at Valencia the last two seasons. . . .

Servite has named Alex Ramirez its new soccer coach. He was head coach at Savanna for 17 years. . . .

Tawnee Luafalemana is the new girls’ volleyball coach at Bishop Montgomery. She played at Carson and Utah. . . .

Catcher Ryan De La Maza of Hart, the Foothill League MVP, has committed to Fresno State. . . .

Logan Park of Diamond Bar. 10 under 64. CIF/SGA champion.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 22, 2024

Logan Park of Diamond Bar shot a 10-under 64 to win the CIF/SGA regional golf championship last week and qualify for Wednesday’s state championships at San Gabriel Country Club. Torrey Pines, Oaks Christian and Classica Academy were the three teams moving on to the state championships. Here’s the pairings for state final. . . .

Prep Rally: Recapping two memorable City baseball finals at Dodger Stadium (5)

Middle school record in Modesto for consecutive sit-ups by Miller Clark, the grandson of former Fairfax and North Hollywood basketball coach Steve Miller.

(Courtesy Steve Miller)

Former Fairfax and North Hollywood basketball coach Steve Miller is a proud grandfather these days because his 14-year-old grandson, Miller Clark, set a record for his middle school in Modesto by doing 4,150 consecutive sit-ups. He shared the record with his friend. . . .


Nish Shaw is the new boys basketball coach at Covina. . . .

🏆🎾 Congratulations to the University Trojans (@UNI_ATHLETICS) - 2024 Boys Tennis CIF State Champions!

— CIF State (@CIFState) May 25, 2024

Irvine University won the first state tennis championship.

CdM’s Niels Hoffmann won the CIFSS Individuals boys’ tennis singles title today in Claremont. Marina’s doubles team of Trevor Nguyen and David Tran also became CIF champions.
The Daily Pilot goes 2 for 2! @latsondheimer @AndrewTurnerTCN

— Matt Szabo (@mjszabo) May 23, 2024

The Marina High doubles team of David Tran and Trevor Nguyen won the Southern Section doubles championship. USC commit Niels Hoffman of Corona del Mar won the singles championship. Here’s the report. . . .

Sierra Canyon and Ontario Christian represented.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 27, 2024

Jerzy Robinson from Sierra Canyon and Kaleena Smith from Ontario Christian have made the USA U17 national basketball team.

From the archives: Tiare Jennings

Prep Rally: Recapping two memorable City baseball finals at Dodger Stadium (6)

Former St. Anthony shortstop Tiare Jennings.

(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

It’s the senior year at Oklahoma for former St. Anthony shortstop Tiare Jennings as she tries to win another NCAA softball championship. The former Gatorade state player of the year has hit 22 home runs and driven in 63 runs. Oklahoma has advanced to another appearance in the College World Series.


She had her senior year at St. Anthony in 2020 cut to eight games because of the pandemic.

Here’s an interview from 2020 discussing her future.


From the Washington Post, a story on the most trusted role on any lacrosse team — the stick doctor.

From the, a story on a pickleball club in Long Beach.

From the San Diego Union-Tribune, a story on a 7-foot volleyball player.

From, a story on Mater Dei basketball coach Gary McKnight being two wins away from becoming the second all-time winningest coach.

From the, a story on Long Beach Wilson quarterback headed to MIT.


Tweets you might have missed

🏐 It's time for the FINAL LIST of the 2024 season!

Statewide rankings in Boys Volleyball including top 25 overall and top 25 based on regions North, Central & South.

Check out The List for this week 👉

— CIF State (@CIFState) May 20, 2024

William H. Taft Charter High School celebrates the completion of a new $230M football stadium with seating for 3,600, a synthetic field, all-weather track, new lighting, aluminum bleachers and ADA seating.

— Alberto M. Carvalho (@LAUSDSup) May 20, 2024

Coach Bruce Rollinson in the building with Coach Raul Lara & Coach Khaled Holmes \|/

— Mater Dei Football (@MDFootball) May 20, 2024

Seniors Ryder Dodd (Water Polo) and Georgia Jeanneret (@JSerraTF) have been selected as the 2023-2024 Trinity League’s Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

Dodd produced an historic campaign in the pool for the Lions this season, scoring a school-record 103 goals, to go along…

— JSerraAthletics (@JSerraAthletics) May 21, 2024

Junior Garrett Higgins cleared 14-6 at Masters this past weekend

2 years ago Garrett didn’t make the team and was a team manager. He wanted to try pole vault when he wasn’t working

Garrett’s journey is nothing short of remarkable. A TRUE INSPIRATION !

— J.T. Ayers 🇺🇸 (@CoachJTAyers) May 21, 2024

Freshman Julius Truitt of Birmingham delivers two-run pinch-hit triple in second inning. Then scores when hidden ball trick goes awry. Birmingham 3, Carson 0.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 21, 2024


Bell wins 1-0. Dodger Stadium here we come.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 22, 2024

The college football recruiting game is reaching comedy status. A player with a GPA under 2.0 leaves a high school, then suddenly picks up a "college offer." That's about as committable as a date with Taylor Swift.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 23, 2024

All the high schools in America playing football on Friday nights should say, "Don't bother coming to any of our games when you're trying to ruin high school football."

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 23, 2024

All-Trinity League baseball.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 23, 2024

Congrats to Harvard-Westlake's Terry Barnum, the school's head of athletics who will become president of the Mission League for 2024-25. Former Bishop Alemany and USC running back. Big supporter of school's media programs.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 24, 2024

Is the QB paying for lunch?

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 24, 2024


(lane 4) Ending the season with a new pr 47.80 in the 400m at CIF state meet.@GregBiggins @milesplit @cathedralhsfb @BrandonHuffman @PrepCalTrack @Rivals @EliteAthletes_ @adamgorney @latsondheimer

— Roosevelt Reuben (@5starrr_rose) May 27, 2024

2024 Boys Volleyball All-City Teams Announced! 🏐🔥

View here for the honorees by division-

— CIF LA City Section (@CIFLACS) May 24, 2024

𝐀𝐥𝐥-𝐂𝐈𝐅 • Loyola Volleyball sweeps the postseason hardware this season!

𝐁𝐚𝐜𝐤-𝐭𝐨-𝐁𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐂𝐈𝐅 𝐃𝐢𝐯. 𝐈 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫:
• OH Sean Kelly ’24

𝐂𝐈𝐅 𝐂𝐨𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫:
• HC Michael Boehle ’84#LoyolaVolleyball | #GoCubs

— Loyola High School Athletics (@LoyolaAthletics) May 24, 2024

LA x NY | @LoyolaFB x @Giants ‼️

Awesome seeing two of our alums — David Long Jr ’16 (@davidlongjr) and Alex Johnson ’18 (@alexxjohnson13) — reunited in the pros with the New York Giants!#LoyolaFootball | #LoyolaHighAlumni | #C4L

— Loyola Football (@LoyolaFB) May 24, 2024

One of the great stories in college baseball is 2020 Hart grad Isaac Kim. Went 5 for 5 today and hit for the cycle to help Pomona Pitzer earn a spot in the NCAA Division III World Series. Hitting .443. Will be transferring to UC Santa Barbara.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 26, 2024

Deshawn Banks is the man. State champion and 7-foot high jumper.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 26, 2024


Do you believe in miracles? Bell is the City Section Open Division champion with 4-1 win over Birmingham.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 25, 2024

Back to back CIF STATE Champion!! Congrats to Aja Johnson on continuing to make history at Notre Dame! #KnightLife

— Notre Dame Knights Athletics (@NDAthleticsSO) May 26, 2024

All-West Valley League baseball.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 26, 2024

I’m taking Banning with this lineup.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) May 25, 2024

Until next time...

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Prep Rally: Recapping two memorable City baseball finals at Dodger Stadium (2024)


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