Both times that the Laguna Beach High baseball team played Newport Harbor this week, the Breakers used a third inning eruption to help them get the win.
Laguna Beach scored six runs in the third inning of Wednesday’s 9-6 victory at home. Two days later, the Breakers did one better.
They scored seven runs in the third to earn a 10-7 Wave League victory Friday at Newport Harbor.
“Our guys do a very good job of picking each other up,” Breakers coach Jeff Sears said. “They want to be the next guy, they want to be that guy, and it showed today. It didn’t matter who was at the plate, or who was on the mound. They wanted to not let their teammates down.”
By sweeping the three-game series with the Sailors, Laguna Beach (10-9, 3-2 in league) kept pace with Marina atop the league standings with four games remaining. The Vikings earned a 4-0 win over CdM on Friday. The Sea Kings (12-5-1, 2-3) and Sailors (9-6, 2-3) are a game back.
The Breakers will now look for good injury news on sophomore shortstop Eric Silva, who left Friday’s game with a right shoulder injury after colliding with left fielder Will Potraz. Sears said that his team is already without last year’s left fielder Christian Holm (ankle) and second baseman Jared Angus (hand).
“[Silva] is our dude,” Sears said. “He’s our pitcher. We haven’t had good news all year long. It’s about time we got some.”
The Breakers took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, as Aiden Booth’s double to center drove in Cutter Clawson and Kolton Freeman. Charlie Pillsbury then scored Booth with a single to center.
Newport Harbor responded in the bottom of the first. After Cameron Mahaffy drew a full-count walk, John Olmstead launched a two-run home run to center. Clay Liolios followed with a solo shot, also to center.
But Laguna Beach’s third-inning onslaught gave the Breakers a 10-3 advantage. Mahaffy was pulled after he walked the bases loaded, and Pillsbury greeted reliever Will O’Neil with a double to right that scored two. Potraz followed with a single to center, and the Breakers would also get a triple from Jeremy Hayes, a double by Nolan Smith and a sacrifice fly from Silva before the onslaught was over.
“We’ve been working on getting our energy up,” Potraz said. “When one guy gets a hit, another guy gets a hit. When we’re all excited, we’re all into the game, it really helps us get a crooked number up on the board.”
Wesley Witteman got the win for Laguna Beach, allowing three runs in three innings. The Breakers brought in Clawson in the fourth, and the BYU signee went the rest of the way.
Jack Bibb and Rich Lemmon had doubles for Newport Harbor, which scored three runs in the fourth and one more in the sixth to chip away. The Sailors even brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh, after Mahaffy was hit by a pitch with one out and Olmstead followed with a walk.
But Clawson got out of it, striking out Liolios and Kelly Austin swinging to end the game. Newport Harbor left 12 runners on base, at least one in every inning.
“We left a lot of guys on base,” Sailors coach Evan Chalmers said. “We knew that they were going to rotate pitchers. We saw three of their guys, and we had opportunities. We couldn’t get a two-hit out, but the seven runs is just a big mountain to climb.”