Sage breaks through

Daily Pilot

LOS ANGELES — The Sage Hill School baseball team has hit a roadblock before in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs.

When the Lightning made their third straight appearance in this round on the road, they hit another barrier before Tuesday's game started. Sage Hill arrived at Windward of Los Angeles and saw a construction truck parked near right field.

"They couldn't move it," Sage Hill Coach Andy Berglund said.

The game was moved to nearby Brentwood School. The start time was pushed back 75 minutes.

In Los Angeles during rush-hour traffic, a six-mile drive can last an hour. Side streets don't help much.

"That was a long bus trip," joked Berglund, who knew the ride home to Newport Coast wasn't going to get any better.

Berglund and the Lightning made sure they left Los Angeles with something to chat about while stuck in traffic. They had a lot to talk about after Sage Hill advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in the program's history after beating Windward, 3-1.

"It's going to be a good ride back," said Berglund after recalling the previous two somber trips home after getting eliminated in the second round. "I remember the ride back from Apple Valley Christian two years ago [after we lost, 2-1]. I remember the ride back from [Poly of] Pasadena last year [after we lost, 6-2].

"This is going to be one of those [bus rides] that we ride back and we do a little singing."

Berglund has a lot to hum about Sage Hill (19-5).

The third-year coach got five strong innings from senior Alex Jimenez, who allowed one run and three hits. Seniors Dusty Orrantia and Mo Kreitenberg each drove in runs with clutch hits in the sixth, allowing Jimenez to improve to 8-2.

Senior A.J. Wolfson closed it out for Sage Hill. He recorded three strikeouts in two shutout innings in relief.

Another player deserving praise was a youngster, Michael Yorita. The sophomore set the table, going three for four with two doubles and he scored the team's first run that tied the game at 1-1 in the third inning.

The multi-hit performance was Yorita's second straight in the postseason. Berglund and teammates asked the first-year starter how he's managing to pull it off.

Yorita just shrugged his shoulders.

"It's no different from any other game," Yorita said. "You're just playing baseball.

"We don't let the pressure get to us."

The further Sage Hill plays in the postseason, the more it feels it belongs. Berglund reminded his players that this is their year to make a run at the title.

Sage Hill's next test is Friday, when it plays host to Vasquez of Acton in the quarterfinals at 3:15 p.m. Vasquez won at Kern Valley, 9-5, in 13 innings.

The Lightning head into the quarterfinals with a lot of confidence after beating Windward (9-14), a semifinalist last season.

Unlike Sage Hill's 21-1 blowout of Calvary Chapel of Moreno Valley in the first round, the Lightning were locked in a pitcher's duel. They also had to come from behind.

Windward took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Kunal Patel drove in a run on a triple. Patel also started on the mound.

That's where Patel committed his first mistake. With two outs and Yorita on third base in the third inning, Patel balked. Yorita walked home and evened the game.

Jimenez appreciated the support. He gave up only one hit after the first two innings.

In the fifth, Jimenez needed only four pitches to retire the side in order.

"I was really going to roll the dice and keep him going," Berglund said. "But we decided to make a change because he faced everybody in the lineup twice.

"He did everything we asked him to do. I think the world of him. I know that he wants to pitch in big games."

CIF Division VI playoffs Second round Sage Hill 3, Windward 1 SCORE BY INNINGS

Sage Hill 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 — 3 7 1 Windward

1 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 1 5 0 Patel, Helford (6) and Frank; Jimenez, Wolfson (6) and Orrantia. W – Jimenez, 8-2. L – Patel, 5-3. 2B – Yorita (SH) 2, Kreitenberg (SH). 3B – Patel (W).

CIF Playoffs Sage Hill…3 Windward…1

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