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Canyons Unable to Hold Back No. 1 Harbor, 9-4

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It is hard to keep a good team down.

The College of the Canyons baseball team learned that lesson Saturday after taking a four-run first-inning lead against host Harbor--the top-seeded team in the Southern California regional and the defending state champion.

Canyons’ lead vanished quickly, however, in a hail of Harbor extra-base hits. The final score: Harbor 9, Canyons 4.

Harbor Coach Tony Bloomfield said his team never doubted it could rally from the early deficit. The Seahawks (34-7) advance to the Southern California regional finals, a three-day tournament that begins Friday at 10 a.m. at Harbor. “It’s not arrogance, but this team is always confident,” Bloomfield said. “It’s a matter of who is going to become the hero on a given day.”

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Saturday, Bloomfield could have taken his pick of heroes, starting with first baseman David Jund, who hit his eighth and ninth home runs of the season and drove in three runs.

Jund’s solo blast over the 350-foot marker in left field off starter Chad Phillips broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh. He added a towering two-run shot to left in the ninth.

Ricardo Gutierrez, Harbor’s second baseman, had a single and a double and lined a two-run home run down the left-field line in the ninth that capped the scoring. Gutierrez, the Southern California Athletic Conference’s most valuable player, boosted his batting average to .404.

Seahawk shortstop Mark Lewis drove in three runs with a pair of singles and stole a base. Lewis turned in the defensive play of the day in the eighth when he dived into the hole to snare Scott Roth’s sharp one-hopper and sprang to his feet to gun down Roth at first.

The loss, coupled with a 5-1 setback against Harbor on Friday, eliminated Canyons (20-19-1), the 16th-seeded team in the regional.

“If you don’t win it all, you end on a negative note, but I was proud of the way the team battled,” Canyons Coach Len Mohney said. The Cougars chased starter Steve Campos in the first inning, scoring four times on a two-run double down the left-field line by Jon Beauchemin, which was followed by second baseman Pat DeBoer’s two-run single.

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Harbor was off-balance at the start against Phillips, a 6-foot-4 right-hander who set down the first six batters.”It took us time to adjust, but we kept picking away, waiting for things to happen,” Bloomfield said.

Lewis enabled Harbor to tie the score, 4-4, with a line-drive single to center that scored Gutierrez, who had doubled. Meanwhile, Harbor got solid long relief from sidearm pitcher Scott Taylor (5-1), who threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings for the win after replacing Campos with two out in the first.

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