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Laguna Beach wins Ryan Lemmon Baseball Tournament with rout over Yorba Linda

Cutter Clawson tossed a gem and Aidan Booth led a potent attack, and Laguna Beach High scored early and often to rout Yorba Linda 11-1 in the Ryan Lemmon Baseball Tournament championship game Wednesday night at Irvine’s Orange County Great Park.

Clawson, who improved to 6-1, allowed just three hits and an unearned run in six innings. Booth, the tournament MVP, ripped a bases-loaded triple to break open a tight game and drove in two more runs to lead the Breakers (14-8).

“It was just so awesome,” said Clawson, who struck out seven and walked none while lowering his earned-run average to 1.72. “I’ve got to hand it to my team. Getting up 6-1 so early in the game made me so comfortable on the mound, gave me all the confidence in the world, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Only two hitters for Yorba Linda (14-7) reached base after the second inning, one on an error — and he was tagged out when the ball ricocheted back to first baseman Alan Kidd — and another on a seventh-inning single against reliever Peyton Fullerton. Three of the Mustangs’ four hits, two of them off Clawson, were infield singles.

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Laguna Beach pitcher Cutter Clawson, left, congratulates second baseman Charlie Pillsbury after thro
Laguna Beach High pitcher Cutter Clawson, left, congratulates second baseman Charlie Pillsbury after throwing out a runner at first base in the Ryan Lemmon Baseball Tournament championship game against Yorba Linda at Irvine’s Orange County Great Park on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“He was very dominant, very dominant,” Laguna Beach coach Jeff Sears said after accepting the championship trophy. “He had a lot of control of his fastball, as well as his off-speed [pitches]. That keeps hitters off-balance and made him feel like he was throwing harder.”

Clawson was throwing in the high 80s, using his fastball to get ahead in counts and a maturing cutter to jam right-handed hitters.

“I’ve never thrown a cutter, and everyone is always like, ‘Why don’t you throw one?’” Clawson said. “I started throwing a four-seamer [this year], started fooling with it, and I got it down, and it’s just getting better and better each time I get out there.”

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Booth went two for three with five runs batted in and was five for 12 while scoring or driving in seven of the Breakers’ 22 runs during the four-game tournament.

“He’s unbelievable,” Clawson said. “He’s the best bat in the tournament, the hottest bat I’ve seen.”

Will Potratz scored three runs and Jeremy Hayes went two for three with a run and RBI as Laguna Beach produced 10 hits against four pitchers.

The Breakers went ahead in their first at-bats, lost the lead after an error led to a Yorba Linda run in the bottom of the first inning, then took the lead for good in the second and turned the game into a romp in the fourth.

Booth’s two-out, bases-loaded triple in the fourth inning — bringing home Nolan Smith, Kolton Freeman and Clawson — was the big blow, extending Laguna Beach’s advantage to 6-1. The Breakers scored runs in every inning but the third.

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Laguna Beach High’s Cutter Clawson, right, scores the game’s first run as Charlie Pillsbury meets him at home during the Ryan Lemmon Invitational Tournament championship game against Yorba Linda at Irvine’s Orange County Great Park on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

They took the lead for good in the second as Potratz led off with an infield single, Hayes singled to left with one out, and Yorba Linda starter Ben Miller plunked James Loughlin on a 2-2 pitch. Smith, who stepped in for injured shortstop Eric Silva during the tournament, brought Potratz home for a 2-1 advantage with a hard-hit single under diving third baseman Garrett Mitchison, and Miller got out of the inning by inducing a double-play grounder by Freeman.

The Breakers are in a tight Wave League race, in which every team is 3-2 or 2-3. Laguna Beach is 3-2 and it hopes the four wins in the tournament can spark something good when league play resumes on April 16. They’ve got two-game series left with Marina, which is tied for first place in the league with the Breakers, and Corona del Mar, which shares third with Newport Harbor at 2-3.

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“We’re going to continue this confidence in our bats and this confidence on the field, and we’re just going to keep it rolling,” Clawson said. “[When] we bring it back to Marina, and we’re taking them down.”

SCOTT FRENCH is a contributor to Times Community News.


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