Baseball: Tars can't match perfection

ORANGE — It's hard to imagine a more perfect two-day stretch than that experienced by Orange Lutheran High baseball senior Toby Dunlap this week, literally and figuratively.

On Tuesday, Dunlap committed to the University of Washington.

On Wednesday, the pitcher celebrated by getting out every Newport Harbor High batter he faced.

Dunlap's teammates surely celebrated too. They rushed out of the dugout after the final pitch of Dunlap's perfect game as the Lancers beat the Sailors, 7-0, in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoff wild-card game at Hart Park.

The 6-foot-6 Dunlap was truly dominant as his perfect game ended the Sailors' season. He needed just 55 pitches, nearly eight per inning. He struck out two and induced 15 groundouts. Orange Lutheran senior shortstop Josh Morgan, a UCLA commit, recorded nine assists by himself.

"I think it's the first perfect game I've seen in 38 years," Orange Lutheran Coach Eric Borba said. "Pretty awesome. Toby's one of those guys who's got all the potential in the world. He committed to the University of Washington [Tuesday], and I think that took some pressure off him. He just went out there and pounded the zone and continued to throw strikes and keep them off-balance ... Toby's one that's kind of struggled with command a little bit throughout the year, and today that was never in question."

After winning at Hart Park, the Lancers (16-11), the third-place team from the Trinity League, get to play at Newhall Hart in a first-round game on Friday. They can have their ace pitcher, senior Garett King, ready to go for that game.

The Lancers got to Newport's Cal State Fullerton-bound starting pitcher Connor Seabold early. The Sailors (13-14), who won their final three Sunset League games to earn an at-large berth into their first CIF playoffs in four years, fell behind 5-0 in the first inning. Orange Lutheran got a leadoff single by leadoff hitter Tristan Hanoian, and a double by Morgan. Hanoian scored on an infield throwing error, and Morgan scored on an RBI double by Ryan Watts.

Seabold battled to get a groundout, and after a walk loaded the bases, he induced an infield popout for the second out. But a grounder to second caused another error, and another run to score, when the Sailors player couldn't get the ball out of his glove. A batter later, Orange Lutheran No. 9 hitter Josh Bissonette singled up the middle to score two more runs.

"They got some good hitter's counts early in the game, and they put the barrel on it," Newport Harbor Coach Evan Chalmers said. "When we had a chance, we made a couple of errors, and — bing bang boom — there's five runs. That's a lot for us to make up. But, you know, we fought. We hit a couple of balls hard, but that kid, [pitching on a] tough downward plane with that high mound? Our guys really couldn't get into the ball. We hit a lot of ground balls."

Chalmers switched pitchers after Morgan doubled again to lead off the bottom of the second inning. Dunlap already had all the support he would need. Right fielder Colin Brecheen helped him out in the top of the fourth, making a sliding catch on Luke Genova's ball to shallow right. And the perfect game seemed over in the fifth, when the Sailors' Rigsby Duncan reached base after the throw appeared to possibly pull the Orange Lutheran first baseman off the bag.

The first-base umpire called Duncan safe, but the call was changed to out after the umpires convened.

"I was just thinking, 'Don't let a perfect game end on something like that,'" Borba said. "We could clearly see from the dugout that he was still on the base, so it was good of the first-base umpire there to ask for help."

Sailors junior Liam Ogburn pitched five innings of solid relief, allowing two runs on seven hits and striking out two. And the Sailors will have six returning starters next year, though Chalmers said the senior class of Seabold, UC Irvine-bound pitcher Shaun Vetrovec, catcher TK McWhertor, third baseman Jake Norton, Jake Carmack and Blake Pender has plenty to be proud of.

"[Wednesday's game] doesn't take away from what they accomplished," Chalmers said. "It's definitely something we can build on."

Tension kept building throughout the game for Dunlap's perfect game. He finished it off as Vetrovec hit a grounder to shortstop. Morgan ranged to his right and fired to first for the out.

"Control's never been a strong point for me," Dunlap said. "It's always been something that's been a work in progress. When I have it, I tend to be pretty good, but that's the thing — I have to have it."

He had it Wednesday.

CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs

Wild-card game

Orange Lutheran 7, Newport Harbor 0


NH 000 000 0 – 0 0 2

OLu 510 010 x – 7 11 0

Seabold, Ogburn (2) and McWhertor; Dunlap and Hernandez. W – Dunlap, 4-0. L – Seabold, 4-7. 2B – Morgan (OLu) 2, Watts (OLu).

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