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Top-Seeded Harbor Battles Rio Hondo in Regional Final

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Harbor baseball team plays Rio Hondo at 3 p.m. today in the first game of the Southern California regional final at Cerritos College. The four-team, double-elimination tournament also includes Golden West and San Bernardino.

If the Seahawks (45-5) beat Rio Hondo (22-17), they play the winner of Golden West-San Bernardino game at Cerritos on Saturday at 10 a.m. Today’s losers play at Cal State Long Beach at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The winner of Saturday’s game at Cal State Long Beach and loser of the game at Cerritos meet at 3 p.m. That winner will play the undefeated team Sunday at 11 a.m. at Cerritos.

Harbor, seeded No. 1 in the South, beat Golden West (26-12) and San Bernardino (26-11-1) during the season. The Seahawks’ biggest concern is 14th-seeded Rio Hondo, which eliminated defending state champ Cerritos in last week’s first round.

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“They’re a scrappy team,” said Harbor Coach Jim O’Brien. “They play solid baseball. They’re better than a lot of people realize.”

The Roadrunners, winners of the Foothill Conference, have strong-hitting lineup. Freshman shortstop Chris McInnes leads the team with a .385 average and sophomore outfielder Tim Jones is hitting .369.

But Rio Hondo pitchers have a 4.87 earned-run average. Bobby Gibbs is the Roadrunners’ ace with a 5-4 record and a 5.29 ERA. He also plays third base and is hitting .290.

Harbor’s strength is pitching. The Seahawks are led by right-handers Pat Ahearne (11-1) and Jeff Hunter (10-0), who picked up victories in last week’s two-game sweep of Miracosta.

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Matt Nuez is Harbor’s best hitter with a .333 average. The left-fielder tied the school record for doubles (16) last week. He also leads the team in runs (52), hits (58) and runs batted in (52).

The winner of the regional will advance to the state final May 25-27 at UC Irvine. That four-team tournament will also feature the winner of this weekend’s other South regional final in Riverside and the two Northern regional champions.


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