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SOUTHERN SECTION BASEBALL PLAYOFFS : 3-A DIVISION : La Serna Offense Awakens and Puts Orange to Sleep

TIMES STAFF WRITER

La Serna High School Coach Vern Brock had been waiting for his offense to stir throughout the Southern Section 3-A baseball playoffs.

The Lancers had been winning, but certainly not on the strength of their hitting. Pitching, defense and some opportunistic batting carried them through the first three games. Still, it wasn’t the type of baseball Brock had come to expect, especially when every player in his starting lineup hit better than .300 during the regular season.

“Sooner or later, we’re going to have to hit the ball to win,” Brock said before Tuesday’s semifinal game against Orange.

It took five innings, but “sooner” finally came and that was the end of Orange. The Lancers scored 10 runs on 11 hits in the last two innings for a 10-1 victory over the Panthers at Rancho Santiago College.

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La Serna will play Tustin in the 3-A championship game Saturday at Anaheim Stadium.

La Serna (27-5) broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the sixth inning. In the seventh, the Lancers scored seven runs on eight hits, including a two-run homer by Steve Holm.

“We’re a good hitting team, we just haven’t shown it in the playoffs,” Brock said. “We were bound to break out of it and I had a feeling it would be today.”

For the Panthers, the defeat continued an already lengthy streak. Orange won the first Southern Section baseball championship in 1914, but has not been back to the title game since.

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This was the closest an Orange team had been in more than 40 years and, for five innings, it looked as if the Panthers might end the 76-year drought.

Josh Bolovsky pitched five shutout innings, allowing only three hits.

“He really kept us off balanced with his curve,” Brock said. “But I knew it was only a matter of time. We were due to hit.”

Orange was unable to take advantage of Bolovsky’s pitching performance. The Panthers (19-10) managed only three hits through five innings off Dunnagan (11-2).

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Panther Coach Ed Howard, who said before the game he only wanted three or four strong innings from Bolovsky, stayed with his pitcher into the sixth.

Bolovsky gave up a leadoff single to Ferguson, and Dunnagan followed with a double to left. After walking Willie Adams intentionally, Bolovsky (3-4) threw a wild pitch to give the Lancers a 1-0 lead.

With runners on second and third and no outs, Glen Huggins lined a single to left to score Dunnagan and pinch-runner Josh McClintlock. Bolovsky was then relieved by John Martinolich.

“It crossed my mind to take Josh out after five innings, but he was doing such a good job,” Howard said.

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Ruben Hernandez cut the La Serna lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth with a home run well over the left-field fence. It was his seventh homer of the season.

The Panthers might have scored more in the inning, but Jeff Peterson was thrown out at the plate while trying to score from second on a single by Jesus Romo.


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