Newport Harbor baseball walks off with victory over rival CdM

Newport Harbor's Gavin Guy slides into home, tying the score during Friday's Surf League game against rival Corona del Mar.
Newport Harbor’s Gavin Guy slides into home, tying the score 1-1 during Friday’s Surf League game against rival Corona del Mar.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Newport Harbor High baseball senior Jack Pinkert saw the ball clank off the catcher’s glove on Friday afternoon.

The team captain made the split-second decision to try to score the winning run from third base in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Sometimes fortune favors the bold.

“The last couple of weeks, he’d seen enough [situations] of bases loaded, nobody out turn into no runs,” Newport Harbor coach Josh Lee said. “It’s happened seven times to us in the last two weeks. I think he just saw an opportunity and was like, screw it, here we go.”

Newport Harbor starting pitcher Dominic Viglione throws a strike against Corona del Mar on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Corona del Mar catcher recovered to get the throw to the pitcher covering home, but it was bobbled. Pinkert was safe, and the Sailors had a big victory over their rivals.

They walked off at home, earning a 4-3 win in the fourth and final Battle of the Bay Wave League game of the season.

Newport Harbor (9-12) took two of three from CdM (12-9) during the spring break series.

Friday’s result, coupled with Marina’s 7-3 victory over Laguna Beach, means that all four teams are tied for first place in the Wave League with a 3-3 mark halfway through the campaign.

CdM's Vincent Menard (24) lands on second base after a stand-up double.
CdM’s Vincent Menard (24) lands on second base after a stand-up double during the Battle of the Bay game against rival Newport Harbor on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“Another four-team tie,” Lee said with a laugh. “What a disaster … We’ll see how it shakes out.”

CdM had tied the score at 3-3 in the top of the seventh when senior Carter Danz got a cluch two-out, full-count single to center to score Will Cheichi. CdM coach Kevin McCaffrey said that Danz, a left-hander who also pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of CdM sophomore starter Will Chavez, was making his season debut due to an arm injury.

The Sailors responded in the bottom of the frame. Pinkert reached on a hard-hit infield single to second. The next batter, Ryan Williams, then smashed a ball off the glove of CdM relief pitcher Isaiah Vasquez. The ball went to the shortstop, but the throw to first was errant and the Sailors had second and third with nobody out.

Vasquez nearly got out of the jam, inducing a ground out for the first out and a pop-up for the second out, sandwiched between an intentional walk to Dominic Viglione that loaded the bases. But Pinkert raced home on the passed ball for the Sailors’ walk-off win.

Newport Harbor's Wyatt Gahm tags CdM's Carter Danz for an out on a close play at third base during Friday's game.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“With two outs there, you’ve got to be kind of aggressive,” Pinkert said. “I just saw it kick away … I’m going to push the envelope and see what happens, and it ended up working out.”

Williams and Viglione each had doubles for Newport Harbor, while Lucas Perez was one for two with a run scored and a run batted in. Viglione, returning from a blister on his right middle finger, also pitched well, allowing three runs over six innings, before senior Charlie Ragatz got the win in relief.

CdM had won the teams’ first league meeting, 12-2, on March 29.

“It’s always fun to play them,” Pinkert said. “The first game we played them was a pretty bad loss, so it was a good bounce back to take two out of three this week.”

Newport Harbor's Lucas Perez runs across home for a score against CdM during Friday's game.
Newport Harbor’s Lucas Perez runs across home for a score against CdM during Friday’s game.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Senior catcher Dillon Lane was three for four with a double for CdM, while senior designated hitter Nick Salmon also had a double among his pair of hits.

“I’m really proud of the way our boys competed,” CdM coach Kevin McCaffrey said. “That’s my takeaway. I can take tough losses, as long as we’re competing … We’re right there, and you’ve got to tip your cap to them. It’s a great series. I feel like we need a fifth game to settle it. It’s two good teams getting after it.”

Newport Harbor continues league play next week with a three-game set against Marina, starting on Tuesday at the Vikings’ field. CdM plays three against Laguna Beach, also starting on Tuesday on the road.

CdM starting pitcher Will Chavez runs down and scoops a bunt for an out at first during Friday's game.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)