LODI -- Patience and power, as well as plenty of solid pitching, have Mariposa High on the cusp of its first Sac-Joaquin Section baseball crown in a decade.
The Grizzlies moved to the Division VI championship game by routing Golden Sierra 10-5 Wednesday to sweep the best-of-three series at Tony Zupo Field.
Mariposa (24-6) pounded Golden Sierra 13-1 in Saturday's series opener and has outscored its last 12 foes 123-21 -- winning all 12. Its 24 wins is a school record.
"Our best team ever? If we win Monday, I'll say yes," said coach Bruce Vegely, noting Mariposa won a title in 1997. "We got to the final in 2000 and 2007, but lost."
The Grizzlies earned this berth by scoring eight runs in the first inning, showing patience at the plate and then pounding strikes.
Everyone got in on the show, as No. 9 hitter Alec Zurligan belted a two-run double to deep center to make it 6-0. Leadoff hitter Joey Jarret knocked in two more with a double that ricocheted loudly off the fence in left-center.
The at-bat that best illustrated the team's baseball IQ, though, came from junior catcher John Ashton with a runner on third and two out in the third inning.
Getting a dose of offspeed pitches, Ashton remained on his back foot and waited for a slow curve to reach the plate. Rather than pull the outside pitch, he stepped into and drilled it off the right-center fence for an RBI triple.
"It was instinct to wait for it, and then go with the pitch," said Ashton, who had a two-run single in the first. "We're taught to go with the pitch, not to pull it."
It was a significant moment because the inability to remain patient was Golden Sierra's flaw.
Mariposa starter David Hawes (11-1) was in and out of trouble during most of his six innings, but repeatedly used his offspeed pitches when he needed an out.
The hitters lunged at the pitches, hitting fly balls and grounders to the left side. Hawes gave up 12 hits, but struck out 11 and allowed only two earned runs.
"People didn't see David at his best," Vegely said. "He typically has a great fastball to go with a changeup. He toughed this out."
The right-hander will need his best stuff Monday, when the Grizzlies face Capital Christian (25-3) at 3 p.m at Zupo. The Cougars are No. 2 in the CalHiSports.com Division IV state rankings.
While many coaches try to stay vague about their pitching plans in playoff games, Vegely saw no need to try and deceive anyone.
"It's the biggest game and you go with your biggest pitcher," he said. "Like I've told the kids all year, it's a baseball game. Go out and play hard, play your best, and you won't be disappointed."