Sage looks to reach first CIF quarterfinal

The Sage Hill School baseball team gets its third go-around in the second round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Coach Andy Berglund hopes the third time on the road is a charm.

The Lightning (18-5) travel to Los Angeles to play Windward (9-13) today in a Division VI second-round game at 3:15 p.m.

“We’ve got to get through this one,” said Berglund, who wants to lead Sage Hill to the quarterfinals for the first time in the program’s history.

Before Berglund arrived in 2008, the Lightning never reached the second round. This is their third consecutive trip and they plan to keep playing after today.

Berglund said senior Alex Jimenez takes the mound for Sage Hill after the team’s impressive 21-1 rout of Calvary Chapel of Moreno Valley in the first round. The right-hander has playoff experience having started Sage Hill’s second round game last season.

The Lightning lost, 6-2, at Poly of Pasadena last year. Jimenez struck out eight in six innings of work, but the six errors behind him spoiled the effort.

A miscue hurt Sage Hill in its second-round appearance in 2008. The Lightning committed an error on a grounder in the fifth inning and host Apple Valley Christian went ahead and won, 2-1.

Sage Hill has improved its defense with catcher Dusty Orrantia and shortstop Sean Vogel. This year, it also headed into the playoffs with two healthy pitchers in Jimenez and A.J. Wolfson.

Berglund said Wolfson would be available today if needed. Wolfson threw four innings in last Friday’s playoff win.

The Lightning face a Windward team that placed second in the Delphic League. The two programs have seen each other twice since 2008, the first in Berglund’s first season and the latest during a showcase last winter at Occidental College.

“They’re a really well-coached team,” Berglund said of the Wildcats, who are led by Coach Tyrone Powell. “When we played them at our tournament two years ago, they beat us 11-2. It was pretty bad. I remember the game because it was one of the worst losses that I’ve suffered.”

The Lightning haven’t lost many under Berglund this season. They posted the program’s most wins during the regular season at 17.

The mark in the Academy League, 13-2, is the also the program’s best.

Even though Sage Hill failed to three-peat as league champion, Berglund has his team pushing forward.

“They know it is behind them and they’re focused on the playoffs,” said Berglund, whose team fell one game back of Oxford Academy for the league crown. “One of our goals was to win on the road in the CIF playoffs. We’re here on the road again and we’re ready to win.”

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