Newport Harbor baseball again tops rival CdM to win Battle of the Bay series
The Corona del Mar High baseball team was ready to clinch a share of the Wave League title at its home field on Thursday afternoon.
The only thing that stood in the way was the right arm of Newport Harbor senior pitcher Trent Liolios. And Liolios’ bat, for that matter.
He helped the Sailors play spoiler with both weapons, as they earned a 6-1 victory.
Newport Harbor (14-9, 3-4 in league) took its second league win over the rival Sea Kings this week, following a 14-6 shellacking at Newport Harbor on Tuesday. In the process, the Sailors earned a Battle of the Bay series win over Corona del Mar (15-9, 5-2), which had come into the week undefeated in league play.
Now CdM finds itself just a game ahead of second-place Laguna Beach (4-3 in league), which earned a 2-1 win over Marina on Thursday, with two league games left to play. The Sea Kings and Breakers play twice next week, Wednesday at Laguna Beach High and Saturday at CdM.
Liolios, bound for Northwestern University, made sure that CdM couldn’t celebrate just yet. He pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing just two hits. He walked three batters and struck out four.
“He had us off-balance at the plate all game,” CdM coach Kevin McCaffrey said. “You’ve got to give kudos to them; they did a great job.”
Liolios passed his 110-pitch limit once CdM’s Ethan Watson reached on an infield error with two outs in the seventh, so Bryce Blaser came in to finish it off. He induced a line out to center by Van Sidebotham to end the game.
First-year Newport Harbor coach Josh Lee said that Liolios had yet to surpass 85 pitches in a game this season prior to Thursday, but it was clear that he was circling the game on his calendar.
“This was one of the games I was waiting for all year,” said Liolios, who was also three for four with three runs batted in at the plate. “I was excited to pitch in this game. I was definitely prepared to go as many pitches as I needed to, just to get us through the game. It took a little toll on my arm, but nothing too much. I’m excited to get back to work.”
Brycen Hill, CdM’s starting pitcher Thursday, had dominated the Sailors in an 8-1 CdM victory in the teams’ first league meeting on March 23. In the series rubber match, though, Newport Harbor got all of the runs it needed in the top of the first inning.
Joey Wright reached on an infield hit, before Blaser stroked a single to right. Liolios’ single to center plated both runners, then he came home an out later when senior A.J. Guitron-Moore (two for four with two RBIs) hit another single to center.
The Sailors stayed hot after launching four home runs in Tuesday’s game.
“I think there was that element to this game,” Lee said. “We were hoping to keep it going, and they were hoping to put an end to it, what happened Tuesday. They were hoping to stop our bats, and we were hoping to keep them rolling. So to do it in the first [inning], it was a big emotional win for the team. And Trent kind of took it from there.”
Watson singled leading off the bottom of the first and eventually scored on a throwing error, but that was all the offense the Sea Kings could muster against Liolios.
Newport’s Jack Morris scored on Blaser’s RBI single in the second, and the visitors added two more runs in the top of the seventh. Wright walked and scored on a one-out double from Liolios, who again scored when Guitron-Moore laced a single to left.
Troy Christensen added a pinch-hit double for the winners.
“We’ve had this in us the whole year, we just hadn’t found it yet,” Liolios said. “Coming against [CdM], we all kind of took a stand. We needed to change something and make something happen, and I believe that’s what happened this week with our hitting.”
The Sailors close out Wave League play next week with a pair of games against Marina.
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