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Slam bests Breakers

Twice the Laguna Beach High baseball team held the lead over Costa Mesa in the Orange Coast League opener for both teams Tuesday but on each occasion, the Breakers couldn’t maintain their advantage.

Host Costa Mesa used a grand slam by John Rybarczyk to break a 3-3 tie and then worked its way to an 8-3 victory on a wet, gray day.

Rybarczyk hit a fast ball over the left-center field fence in the bottom of the fifth to propel the Mustangs.

Laguna held a 2-0 lead after one inning and last led, 3-2, through three after Dominick Robusto scored from third on a wild pitch. The Mustangs, though, drew even in fourth on a solo home run by Andrew Millian.

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Laguna’s Nathan Pickett, who doubled in the game, went the distance and struck out 11.

Trevor Pierce also tripled for the Breakers.

“I’m disappointed to start league play this way,” Laguna Coach Dave Dopf said. “We came out strong and got an early lead, then gave it right back. We got another lead but gave it right back again. We’re not holding on to leads like we should be.”

Laguna resumes league play today, hosting Estancia at 3 p.m. It’s the first of three consecutive home league games for the Breakers who host Calvary Chapel Tuesday and Costa Mesa on Thursday.

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In track and field:

Laguna competes in just its second meet of the season when it takes part Saturday in the San Clemente Invitational.

The Breakers opened their season at the Irvine Invitational on March 10.

“We really are easing into our schedule this year,” Coach Dave Brobeck said. “We got a later than usual training start and I wanted to focus on training in March and competition in April and May.

“Still, Irvine Invite was a success for several of our athletes.”

Brittany Clark was the big highlight for Laguna at Irvine.

The senior won the girls’ varsity 100 meters with a time of 12.6 — the fastest time of the day and 12.86 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.

“Irvine had a large and deep field of schools throughout southern California, so winning this event was no small accomplishment,” Brobeck said. “Our school record holder in the 200, Brittany should attract a lot of college attention as her training takes hold and her times continue to drop.”

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Other Laguna athletes also turning in strong performances were Jonathon Martinez in the 400, EJ Gomez in the 100, Alex Crawley in the 3,200 race, new runner Camille Borges ran a “very impressive” first race in the 1,600 (5:31, 11th-fastest meet time), and several younger runners did well in the 400, 800 and 3,200.

“I chose to rest Jeremy Eaton because of tenderness in his knees, and unfortunately, Andrew Raub, a key runner in the 1,600 and 3,200, turned his ankle in his sprint finish,” Brobeck said. “This year’s team does not have the kind of depth that we did a year ago, so it will be important for us to get Jeremy and Andrew healthy again to string together a push for CIF honors.

“I’ve coached long enough to know that injuries in early March can still effect performances in late May.”

In boys’ volleyball:

Laguna picked up an impressive nonleague victory Wednesday when the Breakers swept host San Clemente, 25-21, 25-21, 31-29.

The triumph ended a four-match losing streak to the Tritons who are ranked seventh in Division I.

Shawn Merz had 16 kills, Blair Bigelow 11 kills, Cooper Gwaltney 14 digs and Clay Knapp 35 assists for Laguna which is ranked sixth in Division II.

Previously, Laguna dropped a 25-17, 25-15 decision to Santa Margarita Saturday in the 13th-place game (Silver Division playoffs) at the 34th Orange County Championships at Fountain Valley High.

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The Breakers, competing in Pool 4, began the tournament Friday at host Edison High. In pool play, they lost to Newport Harbor (25-21, 25-19) and Mission Viejo (25-20, 25-22) on Friday, and on Saturday fell to Foothill (25-22, 25-21).

In the Silver Division playoffs Saturday, Laguna lost for the second time this season to Huntington Beach (25-20, 25-22), then took on Santa Margarita in the 13th-place game.

The 32-team tournament ended Monday with Esperanza defeating Mater Dei in the Division I final at Edison High. Lakewood beat Dana Hills in the Division II final. San Clemente, whom Laguna defeated Wednesday, finished third in Division I.

Laguna won’t play again until it opens Orange Coast League play on March 30 (4:45 p.m.) at Costa Mesa.


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