Taijuan Walker hurls Yucaipa into CIF baseball semifinals

Written by Bob on May 29th, 2010

Story and Photos By BOB OTTO

YUCAIPA, CA – Senior, Taijuan Walker scattered five hits in leading the Yucaipa Thunderbirds to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Santa Barbara Dons in the semi-finals of the CIF-Southern Section Division II Playoffs, Friday.

The win improves Yucaipa’s record to 26-6 and continues its post-season run in the playoffs at 3-0. The Thunderbirds will host El Toro (23-6-1) on Tuesday, June 1, with the winner advancing to the division II championship on June 5th.

With about 700 fans on hand along with several professional baseball scouts focusing their speed guns on Walker, the 6-foot-5 right-hander displayed a 90-plus mph fastball and wicked slider in striking out nine, while walking two. The win improves Walker’s record to 9-3.

In 63.1 innings, Walker has struck out 90 batters and carries a 1.55 earned run average. And he’s also a threat with the bat. Walker had 2 hits in 3 at bats against the Dons, and his .442 batting average, 36 RBI, and 6 home runs place him among the team leaders.

The Dons had scored 14 runs in its previous playoff games (7-4, and 7-0 wins), but only mounted two scoring threats against Walker. With Dons on second and third with one out in the fourth, Walker ended the threat with a fly ball and strikeout.

Then in the seventh, the Dons put two runners aboard with the tying run at the plate. But Walker’s slider produced a ground out to end the ball game.

Yucaipa collected nine hits and one earned run off Dons starter, Danny Zandonna. The Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead in the third on Matt Hardison’s RBI single, scoring Leonard Malfavon (4 for 4). And Yucaipa added two more runs in the sixth, aided by two Dons’ throwing errors and an infield single by Brian Derryberry.

Yucaipa is the final team from the Citrus Belt League still surviving in the playoffs. League champion, Redlands East Valley, and runner up, Rialto, both lost in the second round.

El Toro advanced to set up the semifinal against Yucaipa by defeating Damien, 7-0. The Dons are on an eight-game win streak, averaging 7 runs per game, while allowing 2.

But Yucaipa’s played well of late, too. The Thunderbirds have won seven in a row, averaging 9 runs a game, while giving up but 2.

The game with El Toro promises to be a dandy. Thunderbirds baseball games are played at the Yucaipa High School baseball diamond located at the corner of Yucaipa Blvd and 13th Street, about 1 ½ miles north of the Interstate 10 freeway.

YUCAIPA BATTING: Daniel Ceballos 1-3, Malfavon 4-4 and 2 runs scored, Matt Hardison 1-2 and RBI, Walker 2-3, and Derryberry 1-4.

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Agnes Olsen says:


  2. Bob says:

    And they’re playing great (hitting, pitching, defense, coaching,) at just the right time of the season.

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