LONG BEACH – Sometimes it seems too many teams are allowed to participate in the high school baseball playoffs.

Sometimes a team like Canyon proves it’s OK to have so many teams in the playoffs.

Canyon showed it belonged Saturday when it defeated Crean Lutheran 3-0 in the championship game of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs at Blair Field.

It is the school’s fourth CIF-SS championship in the sport and its first in 26 years. The other titles came in 1984, ‘96 and ‘97.

The Comanches finished third this season in the four-team North Hills League with a 3-6 league record and received an at-large spot to get into the playoffs. They won their five playoff games by a combined score of 37-8.

Canyon right-hander Cohen Gomez pitched out of several jams while giving up seven hits in six innings. He had only one 1-2-3 inning, his sixth and final inning. John Sova retired the Saints in order in the seventh.

Johnny Lopez had an RBI single for Canyon in the first inning and Camden Goetz drove in the other two runs with his single in the fourth.

The season continues for Canyon (20-12) and Crean Lutheran (23-9) in the CIF Southern California Regional that begins May 30.

Canyon took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Gomez reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on Lopez’s sharp single to right-center field.

Jesse Maracine led off Canyon’s fourth inning with a single. One out later Brycen Brunswig walked. An errant pickoff throw to second base allowed Maracine to move to third base and Brunswig to third. Goetz, a left-handed hitting freshman, ripped an inside pitch down the right-field line to send in Maracine and Brunswig for a 3-0 lead.

Canyon coach Jason Smith praised Goetz’s play throughout the playoffs, which included a remarkable over-the-shoulder catch in the semifinals win over Linfield Christian. 

“That changed the game for us,” Smith said of the catch. “And then he comes up big right now with the clutch single for the two RBIs. I just can’t say enough about the kid.”

Canyon freshman discusses his two-run single and the 3-0 win over Crean Lutheran in the ⁦@CIFSS⁩ D4 championship game. And when you’re being interviewed about your big hit in a big game, stuff happens … pic.twitter.com/vzGTmDwoqQ

— Steve Fryer (@SteveFryer) May 20, 2023

Crean Lutheran had chances to score, beginning in the first inning. With one out, Jack Sand and Mark Fredo hit back-to-back singles but did not score. Blake Needelman and Sho Garcia opened the second inning with back-to-back singles but did not score as Gomez got two strikeouts.

The Saints had three singles in the fourth inning but again failed to get one to home plate. Another Gomez strikeout ended that threat.

Gomez said that through it all his confidence did not lag.

“I knew I had to get it done,” said Gomez, a 6-foot-3, right-hander who is committed to Stanford. “And I know my team, my defense, has my back there.”

Smith, too, had confidence in Gomez.

“He just showed a lot of poise out there in those moments and a lot of competitiveness,” Smith said. “He had to do that at times during the year, so it wasn’t something that was new. He knew how to handle the situation and obviously he came up big for us.”