PREP BASEBALL : Pacific Coast League : Hawks Defeat Orange : Laguna Hills Gets First Championship With Its 7-2 Victory

Times Staff Writer

The comeback of 1988 at Laguna Hills High School was completed Friday as the Hawks defeated Orange, 7-2, to clinch their first league baseball title.

It was the 11th straight victory for the Hawks after they struggled to a 3-8 record to open the season. Laguna Hills (14-8, 11-2) will conclude play in the Pacific Coast League next week against last-place Laguna Beach.

Orange (13-10, 9-4) was beaten by Laguna Hills for the third consecutive time, marking the first time the Panthers have been swept in three games since the league was formed two years ago.


Laguna Hills capitalized on two consecutive errors by Orange shortstop Emilio Avila to score four unearned runs in the fourth inning. Orange had trimmed a 3-0 deficit to one run in the top of the inning on first baseman Jesus Romo’s two-run homer.

Ron Kortman (6-4) went the distance for Laguna Hills and allowed only six hits, earning his fifth consecutive win. Both of the runs scored off Kortman were unearned.

In a sense, Kortman typifies the character of the Laguna Hills’ team. He was 1-4 after the Santa Ana Elks tournament. But veteran Coach Jack Hodges said he never doubted his team’s ability.

“This has been my most satisfying year,” he said. “When we were 3-8, we could have gone the other way, but the kids kept working hard and believed in themselves. We beat Santa Ana Valley, 18-2, in the last game of the tournament and turned things around after that.

“Even when we were losing, we were playing well. We lost to three very good teams--Irvine, Santa Ana and Foothill--in the tournament. The pitching was always there, and now the hitting is coming around.”

Laguna Hills had 10 hits off losing pitcher Brian Smith (7-3) and reliever Sean Sutton. First baseman Rob Milo had three singles, shortstop Mike Helm had a single, double and two RBIs and left fielder Mike Smedes hit a single and a double. In other Pacific Coast League games:

Woodbridge 6, Laguna Beach 5 (8 innings)--Robb Lee singled home Derrick Odum in the bottom of the eighth to give (7-15, 5-8) the victory. Jason Burke (2-3) went the distance for the victory. Danny Lane hit a two-run homer for Laguna Beach (6-12, 3-10). It was his ninth home run of the season, a school record.

Trabuco Hills 6, Costa Mesa 0--Dave Lowery (4-3) threw a two-hitter to lead Trabuco Hills (12-8, 8-5) at Costa Mesa (9-14, 3-10). Troy Blan had two hits and two RBIs for Trabuco Hills.