Grace Brethren, a private school with an enrollment of 145 students, is being defined these days by big contradictions.
The Lancers lost a quarterfinal playoff game but are playing in the Southern Section Division VI baseball championship today against La Verne Lutheran at 4:30 p.m.
The Lancers have a 41-5 record the last two seasons under Coach Dan Pierce, but he will be watching the game from the stands at Blair Field in Long Beach.
Summing up the Lancers’ ride the last week is new Coach Jim Thompson: “It’s been insane,” he said.
Thompson will be in his fifth day as coach since taking over for Pierce, who resigned last week over differences with school administrators.
Thompson was an assistant when the season apparently ended last Friday with a 4-2 loss to Pacific Coast Christian.
But the Lancers were awarded a forfeit victory Monday when it was ruled Pacific Coast Christian pitcher Andy Collup appeared five times and was on the mound for 31 outs in one week, both violations of Southern Section guidelines.
Thompson was asked to become the coach after Pierce was told by school officials he would not be allowed to return to the team.
“I’m just doing what I’ve always done, trying to keep them up, keep them positive,” Thompson said. “For me, it’s just another day on the ball field. They’re the ones that play between the chalk lines. They’re the ones that have won all the games. We’ve just guided them.”
After a 6-5 victory in the semifinals over Colton Christian Center Academy, the second-seeded Lancers (22-2) face fourth-seeded La Verne Lutheran (18-2).
Thompson’s son, Tim, is the ace, with a 13-0 record and a 1.30 earned-run average.
Thompson pitched the Lancers’ semifinal victory Tuesday and only has three innings left before he reaches the 10-inning ceiling.
Jackson Beauchamp (2-2, 3.20 ERA) is expected to start, but Thompson, who will start at second base, is ready if he is needed.
“You can’t hide the excitement of being here,” Thompson said. “There’s more pressure now because there’s more at stake. The school is very anxious.”
Grace Brethren outfielders David Stephenson and Robbie Oster, both seniors, were faced with a dilemma--go to the game or attend graduation tonight.
They have chosen to play ball.
“Going to Blair Field was a momentous occasion for them,” Jim Thompson said. “The chances of that repeating will probably never be. The same could be said for graduation, but they said there was no question that they wanted to play.”
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
La Verne Lutheran (18-2)
No. Player Pos. Yr. Avg. 3 Mike Thomas P So. .460 7 Hector Martinez C Sr. -- 11 Chris Alcorn CF Sr. -- 20 Brandon Jackson SS Jr. -- 10 Russell Richardson 2B Jr. -- 17 Ryan Wright 1B Sr. -- 19 Brian Renna RF So. -- 15 Chris Nowell DH So. -- 2 Paul Christman LF Fr. --
Coach: Mike Miller
Assistant: Gary Jackson
Grace Brethren (22-2)
No. Player Pos. Yr. Avg. 1 Danny Buckley C Fr. .323 7 Chris Delaplane 1B Jr. .364 18 Tim Thompson 2B So. .396 8 Jackson Beauchamp P So. .313 11 Ryan Shaffer SS So. .369 10 Shawn McClain CF So. .388 9 Jeremy Humphries 3B So. .313 13 Robbie Oster LF Sr. .385 15 David Stephenson RF Sr. .222
Coach: Jim Thompson
Assistants: Jerry Humphries, Randy Beaty
Player H R HR RBI Ryan Shaffer 24 29 2 27 Tim Thompson 21 29 2 24 Danny Buckley 21 23 0 23 Shawn McClain 19 18 0 21
Pitcher (Record) IP K ERA Tim Thompson (13-0) 82 110 1.30 Danny Buckley (5-0) 24 40 1.90 Jackson Beauchamp (2-2) 13 16 3.20
La Verne Lutheran
Ribet Academy: 10-0
Pioneer Baptist: 8-0
Bloomington Christian: 6-1
North County Christian: 10-0
Pacific Coast Christian: 7-0 (forfeit)
Colton Christian: 6-5