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NEWPORT COAST — The arguing started in the morning for the Sage Hill School baseball team Tuesday.
One of its better hitters, Christopher Griffin, got thrown out for what an umpire ruled as a malicious tag near first base late in the game the day before.
Coach Andy Berglund said he called the CIF Southern Section headquarters, trying to appeal Griffin requiring to miss Tuesday’s game. This one proved to be crucial in the Academy League.
The Lightning played the same team again, Oxford Academy. Different field. Different outcome. More arguing ensued.
When it ended, Oxford Academy winning 16-5, Coach Dana Bedard told Sage Hill Coach Berglund, “I lost respect for you.”
Berglund took it in stride. What could the second-year coach say?
The defending league champions lost the rubber game of a three-game series against the Patriots, who ruled the league for five years until Berglund showed up at Sage Hill last season.
The championship banner hangs behind the Sage Hill backstop. The Patriots (11-3, 6-1 in league) might as well take it down because the league crown looks like it is theirs again.
Oxford Academy, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division VI coaches’ poll, jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the second inning and never let up. The Patriots recorded 14 hits, almost tripling their hit total during Monday’s 3-1 loss at home to Sage Hill (6-4, 4-3).
“Very happy with the outcome of [Tuesday’s] game,” said Bedard after he said his team came out flat Monday. “The kids knew what they had to do.
“On paper, [the Lightning] are the toughest team in league. They’ve got kids that are, everyone one of them, just about 6 feet [tall]. It just goes to show you that kids that are smaller can produce hits and runs.”
The success Oxford Academy has built is what Berglund respects. At times, the Patriots’ confidence can rub opposing players and fans the wrong way.
Berglund admits one thing about Oxford Academy has gotten to him. He said he won’t discuss it until he brings it to the attention of the CIF Southern Section.
“It’s something personal. It’s something that I saw that was questionable,” Berglund said. “We lost one of our seniors. [Griffin] wasn’t even given a chance to be on campus. He got thrown out in the sixth inning [Monday] for what they called a malicious tag at first. He had two close plays at first. The second tag, the umpire said he tagged [the runner] too hard.
“I talked to three different guys this morning [at the section office] and tried to appeal to get him to play. I didn’t get much of an answer until about 30 minutes before game time.”
By then, Berglund said the Lightning lost their argument.
Next thing Sage lost was its best chance to stay in the league race to defend the school’s lone baseball title.
Oxford Academy 16, Sage Hill 5
SCORE BY INNINGS
Criss, Zajac (3), Bedard (7) and Higger; Wolfson, McAfee (4), Vogel (5), Kreitenberg (7) and Orrantia. W – Criss, 4-0. L – Wolfson, 0-1. 2B – Criss 2 (OA), Bedard (OA), Higger (OA), Orrantia (SH), Heffron (SH), Ongaro (SH).