Jeff Sears is back at Laguna Beach High, and he has the baseball team perfect again in the Orange Coast League.
Sears last guided the Breakers in 2011, when they went 15-0 and claimed their first league title in 48 years. Sears left after his fourth year to take over the program at Servite. He coached Servite four seasons before the Friars let him go after they placed fifth in the always-tough Trinity League and missed the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs in 2014.
Back then, Sears said he wouldn’t coach again, only to spend last season as an assistant at Edison.
Sears is back at the helm, and Laguna Beach is 9-0 in league this year, ahead of 5-2 Estancia.
Sears got a chance to come back to Laguna Beach because Mike Bair left to return to his alma mater, Foothill, as an assistant baseball coach. Bair brought Laguna Beach its first CIF Southern Section crown, winning it in Division 4 last year.
Sears has the defending league champion Breakers playing at a high level in league, as they have outscored opponents, 108-21.
But there have been some close games in league in Sears’ second act with Laguna Beach.
The Breakers swept the three-game series with Calvary Chapel, taking Wednesday’s extra-inning affair, 3-2. Grady Morgan’s walk-off home run in the eighth won it for the Breakers.
The first two games went to Laguna Beach, 5-4, and 7-5.
Duke commit Blake Burzell pitched in the first and last meetings with Calvary Chapel, going at least six innings each time, getting the win on March 17. The junior is 6-0 with a 2.82 earned-run average, and has 56 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings.
Laguna Beach is one of four local high school baseball programs in first place in their respective leagues. Huntington Beach is atop the Sunset League, Corona del Mar the Pacific Coast League and Ocean View the Golden West League.
Sage Hill is undefeated in the Academy League, but so is Crean Lutheran. The Saints have played two more league games than Sage Hill has at this point in the season, and the Saints are in first by a game.
The Lightning and Crean Lutheran will most likely settle first place in the final week of the regular season, at Crean Lutheran on May 9 and at Sage Hill on May 11. Expect Brett Super (7-2, 0.72 ERA) and Ashwin Chona (5-0, 0.53 ERA) to get the start on the mound for the Lightning.
The Oilers, who are at the Boras Classic, are 7-1 in the Sunset League, ahead of 6-2 Marina. Coach Toby Hess, in his first season with the Vikings, has Marina in contention to repeat as league champion.
The Vikings and Oilers play twice more, at Marina on May 3 and at Huntington Beach on May 5. Huntington Beach won the first meeting, 5-2, at home on April 6. Huntington Beach finished a game back of Marina last year.
The Sea Kings are 7-1, ahead of defending Pacific Coast League champion Woodbridge and Beckman, who are both 5-3. CdM is at 1-7 Irvine on Friday, one of seven games to go in the regular season.
Next week CdM has two games with Woodbridge. The Sea Kings took the opener, 5-0, at home on March 21. They already won the series with Beckman, taking two of the three games.
The Sea Kings’ previous first-place finish in league was in 2006.
Ocean View sits at 7-2 in the Golden West League. The Seahawks are looking to win their third straight league championship. In the way are Loara and Segerstrom, who are each 5-2.
Ocean View holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Loara, having won two of the three games. The Seahawks’ final three games are with Segerstrom.
More seniors commit to colleges
A week after the first day of the final signing period of the year, more local high schools honored their seniors for committing to colleges.
Corona del Mar’s Alex Shadid is heading to the University of British Columbia to play baseball. Kimberly Shadid said her son is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada.
Shadid plays second base and pitches for the Sea Kings. He’s batting .246 with 12 runs batted in, and the right-hander hasn’t allowed a run in his eight innings in relief, striking out eight and giving up five hits.
Other CdM athletes committing were two lacrosse players, Jordan Pakzad and Brennan Greenwald. Pakzad is going to Rutgers, which is currently ranked No. 13 in the NCAA Division I by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Assn. Coaches’ poll, and Greenwald is bound for Drexel University.
Pakzad and Greenwald are defenders. They have led CdM to a 12-2 record, and the Sea Kings are allowing less than six goals per game.
From the CdM girls’ volleyball team, Alexa Bonanno and Joanne Won are heading to Bucknell and Brown, respectively, to continue their careers. Arwin Rahmatpanah (Cal) and Jaydin Moses (University of San Diego) are playing football on the next level.
Newport Harbor’s Alex Michaelsen committed to the Texas Christian University football program, and Lisa Hamilton is going to Union University in Tennessee to play NCAA Division II women’s volleyball.
Costa Mesa’s Carter Chapman committed to Lakeland University, an NCAA Division III program in Wisconsin.