Newport Harbor baseball beats rival at OCC, but CdM claims Back Bay series
The Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor baseball teams will be competing in separate leagues this season, so their head coaches formulated a plan.
The Battle of the Bay came early, and not just once, but for a full series.
With wins in the first two games, the Sea Kings won the Battle of the Bay. With a win in the final game of the set, the Sailors may have found something to rally around.
“[Newport Harbor coach] Josh [Lee] and I both got together and said, ‘Hey, we’re not in the same league this year. Let’s play a full series,’” CdM coach Kevin McCaffrey said. “This rivalry is something special. … This is how it fell in our schedule, and I love it. You’d rather play your rival three times than once a year. Our major takeaway is we won the Battle of the Bay series, and that means something to our boys.”
A seven-run third inning propelled Newport Harbor to a 7-4 win over CdM on Friday at Orange Coast College, as the Sailors salvaged the last leg of a three-game week against their crosstown rivals.
Newport Harbor (4-4) produced just five hits in the contest, but a two-run triple by Gavin Guy, followed by a bunt single for a run by Nick Montgomery, made for big contributions from the bottom of the lineup.
“Gavin’s a freshman this year, and he played varsity basketball, and now he’s varsity baseball,” Lee said. “He’s got a long, long way to go, but he’s got a good head on his shoulders, and he’s got a competitor’s mindset, and he’s got a lot of skill, and that’s going to serve him well as he continues to grow in both sports. It was good to see him do that in a big game.”
In Lee’s view, the Sailors did not play particularly well during the week, but even with the struggles at the plate, he was proud to see his team “gut out a win.”
“Sometimes, adversity and underperforming in big moments can motivate you,” Lee said. “It can be a cripple or it can be a motivator. I think today was really nice for them to use as motivation. This is a young team that is full of a lot of freshmen and sophomores, and they could have easily lost the first two and mailed it in. …
“They didn’t and they fought. We had seven guys not get out of the way on balls. Not a lot of those were in-in. They were in just enough, and most of the time with high school kids, they bail. These kids just gutted it out, and they wore it for the boys.”
Despite a breaking ball that consistently backed up into the right-handed batter’s box, McCaffrey stuck with starting pitcher Hogan Smith to see if he could work his way out of it. He worked out of a jam in the second inning before the control issues persisted with four hit batters in the third.
“They didn’t get any hits off him,” McCaffrey said. “We felt like we wanted to give a chance. It’s still early in the year. We want to feel what our kids can do. We wanted to keep him out there and see what he could do in a pressure situation.”
An infield single by Lucas Perez ended Smith’s afternoon. Charlie Ragatz had a sacrifice-fly in front of Guy’s triple. Adair Bisoso also had a run-scoring single in the Sailors’ big inning.
Peter Bonin threw three perfect innings with five strikeouts in relief. It kept CdM (4-4), which responded with four runs in the next half inning following the Sailors’ seven-run frame, within striking distance.
Singles by Dillon Lane and Brady Gadol to lead off the seventh brought the tying run to the plate for the Sea Kings, but the rally went no further.
Corona del Mar opened the series with a 3-2 win behind Nick Salmon’s two-hit complete game. The Sea Kings took the second game 8-4, with Jake Garcia supplying two doubles, two runs batted in and two runs scored.
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