LODI -- There wasn't a moment of hesitation in Bruce Vegely's voice Monday afternoon.
"This group of guys right here are the best baseball team ever to put on a Mariposa uniform," the Grizzlies coach said. "I said last week these guys would have to win a title if they want to be called the best. Well, they did it."
It was an impressive showing, indeed, as the Grizzlies parlayed pitching, defense and timely hitting into an 11-2 rout of Capital Christian and a Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship.
David Hawes (12-1) struck out 11 and scattered six hits for his third playoff victory in 12 days, and the Grizzlies (25-6) pounded 14 hits against the state's No. 2-ranked Division IV school.
Capital Christian (25-4) was unchallenged in the northern half of the section, stringing together so many wins that CalHiSports.com had only Central Catholic ranked higher in its state poll.
But the Sacramento private school, which has become an athletic power in recent years, was no match for the country kids.
"Talent is important, don't get me wrong, but you've got to have kids who play the game because they love it and because of their teammates," said Vegely, whose team finished with a 14-game win streak. "Chemistry, I think is what you call it. We've got it."
Mariposa had talent and chemistry, which is why it ran roughshod over the D-VI field. The Grizzlies went 4-0 in the playoffs, outscoring its foes 48-10 and hitting double digits each game.
With Hawes pitching, that was plenty of production. The righty (12-1, 1.4 ERA) went the distance, walking two and allowing two runs in the fourth.
"I'd never faced their hitters, so I came right at them the first time through the lineup, throwing fastballs," Hawes said. "The second time, I pitched them backward and kept them guessing."
Hawes used a changeup and curve to start batters over the final four innings, catching them leaning forward in anticipation of a fastball and using that eagerness to collect first-pitch strikes.
After Mariposa scored five runs in the sixth, Hawes said, he had to control his emotion and focus on throwing the final two innings.
"We've been thinking about today since we got together for our first practice," said Hawes, who will play at Fresno Pacific University next spring. "We've been playing together for years. We're all friends, which makes it fun."
Mariposa won its only other title in 1997, but it reached the 2006 final before losing to Central Catholic 1-0. Hawes took the loss in '06, but Mariposa made sure he wouldn't lose again by jumping to a 5-0 lead after 3½ innings.
Jarret Miller's two-run single in the first got it started, and Jarrett Leonard's RBI single made it 5-0. The six-run sixth, which included RBI singles by Miller and Leonard, sealed the crown.
Mariposa received production from its bench, too: Hank Northrop went 2 for 2 after replacing Cody Guenthart in the first inning.
Guenthart was trying to score when the catcher charged up the third-base line. Even though the catcher initiated contact without the ball, Guenthart was ejected for not avoiding the catcher.
"What's Cody supposed to do, stop for the guy?" Vegely asked.
Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.