All the afternoons sticking around the baseball fields, taking swing after swing, fielding ground ball after ground ball, finally paid off in one dramatic minute in the life of Chase Strumpf.
The former JSerra High School star was at the plate for UCLA on June 3 in a winner-take-all regional championship game against visiting Loyola Marymount when, unbeknown to Strumpf, he was selected in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Chicago Cubs.
Seconds later, Strumpf blasted a towering three-run homer over the left-field fence to give UCLA a 6-2 lead, and the Bruins held on for a 6-3 victory to advance to the Super Regionals against the University of Michigan.
“The fact that they happened probably 30 seconds apart from each other is a memory of a lifetime,” UCLA coach John Savage told the Southern California News Group afterward.
Strumpf was a senior on the 2016 JSerra team that advanced to the CIF-SS Division I semifinals.
That group was stacked with talent, and many of the players have taken their game to another level, evident by the last few major-league drafts.
Royce Lewis was just a junior on the 2016 team before emerging as the No. 1 overall draft pick the following year by the Minnesota Twins.
Davis Wendzel did not attract as much publicity at JSerra as Lewis and Strumpf, but he’s joined them as big-time major-league prospects.
Wendzel earned Big 12 Conference co-player of the year at Baylor last season. His team was eliminated by UCLA at the regionals, but his spirits were lifted when he was drafted late in the first round by the Texas Rangers, No. 41 overall.
Wendzel, who batted .367 with nine home runs last season at Baylor, exuded confidence when he spoke with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram shortly after getting drafted.
“I have a very mature approach at the plate,” Wendzel said. “I pick up pitches really well, and when I pick pitches I don’t miss them. I can hit any pitch in any count. I’ve been hitting against the best of the best in college and I’m ready to do it at the next level.”
Strumpf and Wendzel weren’t the only players from JSerra’s Class of 2016 to get drafted earlier this month.
Lyle Lin played catcher for the Lions and was drafted in the 16th round out of high school by the Seattle Mariners.
He chose to attend Arizona State, which made him ineligible to be drafted the next two years. He was selected in the 29th round last year, decided to come back to Arizona State for his junior year and was taken in the 14th round this year by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Micah Pries headed to Point Loma Nazarene after graduating with Strumpf, Wendzel and Lin. He blasted 18 homers and drove in 50 runs as an outfielder last season, attracting the attention of the Cleveland Indians, who selected him in the 13th round.
Another player who was set to be on the 2016 team was left-handed pitcher Jack Owen, but he didn’t play that season because he reportedly needed to get a job.
He went on to pitch two years at Auburn, emerging as the staff ace last season, and was drafted in the 21st round by the St. Louis Cardinals.