Sunny Hills High School's baseball team won its first league title in the school's 26-year history with a 5-3 victory over Troy on Wednesday that featured the pitching and hitting of Lancer star Paul Abbott.
Abbott (9-1) allowed only four hits, struck out 10 and added two singles in what is becoming a routine performance for the senior. He also scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning when the Lancers rallied for three runs to turn the game around.
The win was the 11th in 12 league games for Sunny Hills (18-4) and expanded its lead to four games over second-place Troy (7-5, 11-9) with only three games remaining. Abbott finished with style, striking out John Mash on three pitches to give him 117 strikeouts for the season.
"I thought Paul threw well, but he was tiring in the end," Lancer Coach Doug Elliott said. "He gets on base a lot and has a tendency to get tired down the stretch."
A dozen scouts sat behind the Troy diamond armed with speed guns that recorded Abbott's fastball at 86 miles per hour, but his hitting was equally impressive. He went 2 for 4 and scored twice, improving his batting average to .464.
Troy's only serious threat came in the third inning when the Warriors took a 2-0 lead on two walks, a couple of wild pitches, a run-scoring single by Mash and Tony Godfrey's double to left-center that scored Steve Russell.
Sunny Hills tied the game, 2-2, in the fourth inning with three base hits off starter Mike Greer (4-1) and then sent Greer to the bench with a three-run rally in the sixth. Abbott and catcher Adrian Schicker played key roles in both scoring rallies.
Abbott singled and scored in both innings and also showed he's pretty good on the base paths with a stolen base in the sixth. Schicker, returning from a three-week layoff with a thigh injury, had a single in the fourth and drove home the winning run in the sixth with a fly ball to right field.
Afterward, Troy Coach Arvin Sethman tried to explain the difference between the teams in a rivalry that has seen Sunny Hills win three times this season.
"We lost, 5-4, the first time we faced Abbott and then 5-3 today," he said. "In both games, we had to work hard for our runs and it was easy for them. When you get a two-run lead against Abbott, you feel pretty good, but you knew that sooner or later Sunny Hills was going to start hitting."
Abbott has beaten the Warriors twice and one sensed that the Troy players knew they had their work cut out for them when they started "high-fiving" on the bench after Abbott threw consecutive wild pitches to move a runner to third.
"You know going into the game that it isn't going to be easy against Abbott, and you're going to need some breaks to beat him," Sethman said. "We got some breaks early, and then they got all the breaks in the end. It seemed like it was easy for them and hard for us."
However easy it may have appeared, it has certainly been difficult for the Lancers to win that elusive league title. This is a school that had current New York Mets catcher Gary Carter in the lineup for four years and failed to win a championship.
The entire Sunny Hills team celebrated by piling on Elliott at midfield during an interview. Undaunted, Elliott emerged from the pile, turned to reporters and asked, "Next question?"
In other Freeway League action:
Sonora 8, Buena Park 4--The Raiders, who didn't score a run and had only three hits in its two games last week, erupted for 14 hits to beat the Coyotes at Sonora.
The Raiders (6-6 in league) trailed, 1-0, but scored four runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead for good. Mitch Kaylor led Sonora by going 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs while Rob Stuart went 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
Mike McClaran pitched a complete game to get the win. Todd Bunch had one of the Coyotes' eight hits, a two-run home run in the seventh.
Fullerton 19, La Habra 14--The Indians improved their league record to 5-7 with a win at La Habra. The Highlanders dropped to 3-9.
Valencia 10, Savanna 5--The Tigers scored four runs in the sixth inning, three on a home run by shortstop Jim Campanis, to blow open what had been a close game at Valencia. Campanis was 4 for 4, with four RBIs. He had an run scoring double in the second inning.
Valencia (8-4) had led 6-3 before Campanis' hit. The Tigers later scored when Savanna pitchers walked in a run. Valencia second baseman Troy Barnhart stole two bases to run his season total to 25. Starting pitcher Jeff Martinez (3-1) got the win and Steve Street earned a save.
Anaheim 8, Brea-Olinda 7--The Colonists rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh at Glover Stadium and beat Brea for their first league win. With a runner at first and none out in the seventh, Aaron Jara doubled for Anaheim (1-11, 3-15). Brea third baseman Tony Sizemore took the cutoff throw from the outfield and then tried to pick Jara off second, but his throw was wild, allowing one run to score. Jara, who went to third on the error, scored the winning run on Rod Klopfer's sacrifice fly to right. Jara led Anaheim by going 3 for 4 and teammates Will Barber and Manny Sanchez added two hits each. Mike Oziminski homered for Brea.
Western 5, Magnolia 2--Paul Boucher's two-run, pinch-single in the sixth inning led the first-place Pioneers (9-3, 15-6) past the Sentinels (6-6, 8-9) in Brookhurst Park in Anaheim.
Western trailed, 2-1, in the fifth inning when it got one run to tie the score. The bases were loaded when Boucher, who did not start at shortstop because of a bad back, came off the bench and singled off losing pitcher Carlos Gonzalez (7-4) to give the Pioneers the lead.
David Tellers (10-2) pitched a complete game for Western. He allowed only two hits while striking out three.
Rob Harrison stole three bases for Western and Rich Lodding stole two.
SEA VIEW LEAGUE
University 12, Costa Mesa 7--Center fielder Mark Favorite had three hits, including a three-run home run in the sixth inning to lead the Trojans (9-2). Winning pitcher Jeff Stombaugh (1-0) relieved starter Clayton Walker midway through the second inning. Stombaugh struck out two. University's Todd Krueger was 2 for 3 with a solo homer in the sixth inning. The Trojans, who have a team batting average of .423, had 13 hits off Costa Mesa pitchers.
Trojan Dave Huegy was 3 for 3 with a double and two runs scored. Brett Howard was 2 for 4 with one RBI and two runs scored. Tom Staff had a two-run double and a run scoring sacrifice fly.
Newport Harbor 7, Saddleback 5--Sailor first baseman Wes Torell went 2 for 3 with three RBIs, and designated hitter Mike Jarboe added a two-run homer in the fourth to lead Newport Harbor (7-4) to the win at Saddleback. The win solidifies Newport Harbor's third-place standing in the league. The Sailors are two games ahead of Saddleback and Woodbridge, which are both 5-6.
Newport Harbor jumped out to a 7-0 lead with Jarboe's homer. However, Saddleback took advantage of four Sailor errors in the sixth inning and scored five runs on four singles to cut Newport Harbor's lead to two. Pitcher Tom Mahoney (5-4) allowed five hits while striking out seven.
Estancia 18, Laguna Beach 4--The Eagles scored a school record 11 runs in the fifth inning on their way to an easy win at home. Many of those runs came because of the charity of Laguna Beach pitchers. In the fifth, three Artist pitchers gave up 12 walks. In all, Estancia batters were issued 18 bases on balls.
The fifth was capped by Mike Lujan's three-run homer. Lujan was 1 for 3 with four RBIs. Mike Naylor was 2 for 2 with a home run, double and three RBIs. Eric Van Doren walked three times, scored two runs and had two RBIs on a triple.
Corona del Mar 14, Woodbridge 8--The Sea Kings scored six runs in the seventh inning to break open a close game at Woodbridge. Corona del Mar sent 10 batters to the plate in that inning but got only two hits. The Sea Kings were the recipients of numerous Warrior walks, balks, errors and wild pitches. In fact and error by the Woodbridge center fielder allowed three runs to score. Woodbridge outhit Corona del Mar, 10-9. Tony Laina was 3 for 4 with two RBIs for Woodbridge.
SOUTH COAST LEAGUE
Laguna Hills 3, San Clemente 2--Winning pitcher Wayne Helm (9-2) broke a 2-2 tie when he singled home pinch-runner Ron Labin in the fifth inning. Helm struck out seven and walked only one on way to his complete-game victory. Helm has struck out 70 batters in 65 innings. Laguna Hills improved its league record to 5-4.
San Clemente (1-8) scored its only runs on Andy Greek's homer in the second. Brad Zell and Slade Ponsen each had two hits for the Tritons. Steve Fesperman (2 for 3) knocked in Laguna Hills' first run with a single in the first inning.
Mission Viejo 9, Capistrano Valley 6--Bob Brucato was a one-man show, pitching a complete game and collecting four hits to lead the Diablos. Brucato, a senior who transfered to Mission Viejo from Illinois this season, had five RBIs and scored three runs.
In the fifth inning Brucato knocked in three runs with his fourth home run of the season. He got two more RBIs in the sixth with a bases-loaded double. Brucato is batting .452 this season. The Diablos got their first run on Ray Reinders' (3 for 3, one RBI) double in the first inning.
Irvine 5, Dana Hills 2--Mike Henigan pitched a complete game to lead the Vaqueros (7-3). Henigan also held Dana Hills' Dave Kirkpatrick hitless, breaking Kirkpatrick's 17-game hitting streak.
Irvine scored in the first inning but was tied when Dolphin center fielder Dave Lyon hit a solo home run. Irvine increased its lead to 3-1, but Dana Hills' Scott Hefner cut the lead to one with his eighth home run of the season. The Vaqueros added two runs in the fifth. Dana Hills' record dropped to 5-5 in league.
Marina 4, Fountain Valley 1--Robbie Hanson pitched a five-hitter and struck out four to lead the Vikings past the Barons at Blair Field in Long Beach. Chris Sublette keyed the Marina attack with a two-run double in the sixth inning.