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Mission’s Tuneup Ends on Losing Note, 10-3

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Some baseball coaches might warm up for a big tournament by playing a lackluster opponent, but Mission College’s John Klitsner scheduled mighty Harbor, a team with talent to rival many Division I programs.

Having lost all four games it had played this season against Harbor, the state’s top-ranked team, Mission had everything to gain, and nothing, well nothing but the 10-3 loss it suffered Saturday at Harbor, to lose.

Klitsner had added the nonconference game against its Southern California Athletic Conference rival to fill in the more-than-two-week break between Mission’s final regular-season game and its first state playoff appearance.

Harbor (43-5) fine-tuned its game, bunting four times for singles and stealing home. In addition, five pitchers held Mission (24-12-1) to five hits, none for extra bases. For Mission’s part, three runners were thrown out in baserunning gaffes, and three pitchers were each touched for at least two runs.

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“We were kind of sluggish today,” Klitsner said. “You make your mistakes today, and you turn it up a couple of notches intensity-wise for next week.

“We’ll shake it off. We take it as a learning experience and hope to improve from playing them. You can only get better by playing the best.”

Mission scored a run in the first when Rich Ortiz scored on Dain Turner’s sacrifice fly, but Harbor battered starter Nick Lymberopoulos (9-4) for six runs during his three-inning stint.

In a game intended to air out rusty pitchers’ arms and give batters some work against live pitching, both coaches planned their pitching rotations beforehand.

Nino Romo followed Lymberopoulos in the fourth and retired the first six batters he faced but surrendered two runs in the sixth. Jose Garcia, Mission’s third pitcher, gave up runs in the seventh and eighth.

Mission was stymied by one of the top pitching staffs in the state. The five pitchers who took the mound for Harbor have a combined record of 32-1. Starter Pat Ahearne (10-1) was credited with the win.


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