For only the second time in the last 50 years, the Laguna Beach baseball team can call itself league champion.
Laguna secured the 2013 Orange Coast League title Tuesday when it overwhelmed host Godinez, 23-2. The one-sided win pushed the Breakers' school-record win streak to 18 games. It also made them 12-0 in league, and 22-2 overall.
The title is the first for the Breakers under second-year head coach Mike Bair.
"It's big-time," Bair said of his team's accomplishment. "This is something the program has only done twice, now, in the last 50 years. Winning league was something we have strived for since the beginning of the season."
Tuesday's win was never in doubt although the Breakers punctuated the win by scoring 17 runs over the final three innings, which included a 10-run outburst in the top of the fifth.
"Usually with a lopsided score, there are a lot of errors and walks that lead to runs," Bair said. "That wasn't the case for us. We just flat-out hit the ball. It was good to see our offense really produce. It was a great hitting day."
Laguna had a season-high 25 hits in the win. Senior Cole Millerd, who also got the pitching win, led the attack with four hits and had two runs batted in. Junior Richie Nunis, who homered, and senior Kaito Lee, both had three hits. Jackson Rees, who had the other Laguna homer, was one of six Breakers with two hits.
Millerd threw four innings. He gave up just two hits with five strikeouts.
Millerd also closed out a key win for Laguna on April 26 when he finished off visiting Calvary Chapel, 5-2. He struck out two in getting the save. Rees recorded another win on the mound to improve to 8-0. The senior threw a four-hitter with two walks and two strikeouts with two runs scored.
Offensively, senior Robbie McInerny went three for four with two RBIs and a run scored. Senior Larry Stewart went three for three with an RBI, and both Millerd and Nunis (two hits) drove in a run.
Laguna, which had rallied on April 23 to score an important, 5-3 win over Calvary Chapel to establish itself atop the league standings, completed a 3-0 league sweep of the Eagles.
"The guys really wanted to sweep the series," Bair said. "I think they had all the pressure off them after that big win on Tuesday. I thought we came out real loose and played well. We had timely hits, played good defense and pitched well. That's been our recipe all year."
With only three league games left in the regular season, the Breakers, ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division 4, have the opportunity to finish a 15-0 league campaign. The 2011 Breakers, also a league champion, were the last team to go through league without a blemish.
Laguna will try to make it a three-game series sweep of Godinez when it plays host to the Grizzlies at 3:15 p.m. Friday. Bair said that Rees has the starting assignment.
On Tuesday, the Breakers play host to Costa Mesa at 3:15 p.m. It's senior day and it's been a Laguna tradition to start a line-up composed of seniors. This year's senior class features 13 players.
"We had a heavy junior class last year, and we finished third in the OCL," Bair said. "We knew we had a lot of guys coming back this year and had the potential to have a really good year. To have the potential to go undefeated in league, is just unbelievable. We're taking it one game at a time."
The Breakers close out the regular season Thursday at Costa Mesa.
The Breakers registered one of their key wins of the season Tuesday when they rallied to knock off visiting Estancia, 6-5, at Thurston Middle School.
Junior Jordan Hartman, who went two for four with a double, hit a RBI sacrifice fly to center field to bring in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Junior Veronica Clancy, who previously singled twice in three at-bats, delivered a walk-off double to right-center field to score Clancy with the winning run.
Sophomore Halle Redfearn allowed only two hits and struck out seven as Laguna won its third-straight league contest to run its league mark to 4-3, good for third place. The Breakers improved to 8-18 overall and with two games left in the regular season, still are in the hunt for a CIF playoff berth.
They took on league-leader Calvary Chapel Thursday. The score wasn't available at press time.
Haley Putnam hit for the cycle Tuesday for Laguna, continuing her torrid play at the plate. The senior went four for four with a single, double, triple and two-run home run. Sophomore Jen Sorenson belted a solo home run in the bottom of the first and lead-off triple in the sixth. Senior Kennedi Gherardini singled twice with an RBI, senior Cory Kent singled twice, and sophomore Gabby Lange had a hit and a key, sacrifice bunt that put runners in scoring position.
"I am extremely proud of the performance against a very good team in Estancia," Laguna Coach Victoria Batistelli said. "Their heart and unwillingness to quit, and come-from-behind twice with consistent and timely hitting, is what ultimately won the game."
In a previous league game on April 25, Laguna pounded Saddleback pitching for 24 hits and defeated the host Roadrunners, 22-1. Redfearn threw a one-hitter and struck out six to get the win, and backed her pitching performance with a four-for-five day at the plate that included two RBIs, a walk and stolen base.
Putnam went five for five with a pair of doubles and five RBIs. Kaytn Ott also went five for five with a double and three RBIs, Kent had three hits and three RBIs, Hartman went two for three with a walk and RBI, Sorenson two for two with an RBI, and Lange had a hit and walk.
The Breakers complete the regular season next week with league games at Godinez at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, and home (4 p.m.) at Thurston Middle School Thursday against Costa Mesa.
CIF Weekly Rankings (week of April 29)
Baseball: Laguna Beach (No. 3, Division 4).