NEWPORT BEACH — The same three geese that Coach Patrick Murphy has seen land on the Newport Harbor High outfield appeared again.
This time, the Sailors were playing a baseball game and not practicing.
In a matter of minutes, the geese had the entire field to themselves. The umpires called the Sailors' season opener Friday in the top of the seventh inning because of darkness.
Newport Harbor did not bat in the bottom half of the final inning and there was hardly a reason to because Beckman was on its way to winning. The Patriots picked up an 11-4 victory in a pool-play game in the Newport Elks Tournament Foothill Division.
Newport Harbor is off to a different start compared to last season. The Sailors won their first nine games, which included five in the tournament that they won last year.
They are different team this year. Young and inexperienced is how Murphy describes his players.
Beckman starter James Kaprielian took advantage of the Newport Harbor lineup, striking out five in five innings to earn the win. Kaprielian did not drop a game all of last season, when the Patriots finished 27-2, won the Pacific Coast League title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.
But Newport Harbor had the junior right-hander on the ropes in the first inning. With one out, the Sailors loaded the bases.
Kaprielian got out of the inning only giving up one run. He used his slider to get out of trouble.
"We had an opportunity to score right there and kind of put them on their heels, and we didn't come through," Murphy said.
The missed opportunity was the first of a couple in the first two innings for Newport Harbor. It might take time for the Sailors to return to their form of last season, when they reached the postseason for the first time in 20 years.
Newport Harbor lost eight starters to graduation and the program missed their experience Friday.
Getting only one run across when they had three runners in scoring position in the first two innings hurt the Sailors. Teams are going to pitch around the team's slugger, Matt Carpenter.
Kaprielian went after the youngsters. He walked Carpenter in the first inning, getting to Patrick Overstreet. In six pitches, Kaprielian struck out the sophomore. Overstreet went down swinging on a breaking ball.
Murphy said he expects Overstreet to make pitchers pay for avoiding Carpenter, who homered eight times last year as a sophomore. The clean-up hitter did not get much to hit, walking twice.
"Matt's going to have to be patient because he's going to see a lot of off-speed pitches, a lot of pitches out of the zone," Murphy said. "He's going to have to be mature enough to just sit and be patient and allow himself to get to first base.
"I know he puts a lot of pressure on himself to succeed and he gets big hits, but [on Friday] his attitude was very good."
The season just began so Murphy said the team is optimistic. The Sailors return to tournament play Saturday at Laguna Hills at noon.
The offense will try to give run support to Chase Kapana, who Murphy plans to start on the mound Saturday. Except for Brendan Mestrin, who went two for three with two doubles and two RBIs, the Sailors did not help out starter Max Gerard much on Friday.
The senior right-hander shut down the Patriots in the first two innings. In the third inning, Gerard hurt himself after getting the leadoff hitter out. He hit a batter and then walked the next one.
The next four batters Gerard faced recorded hits. Three of them doubled and another singled, as Beckman scored six runs in the third.
Zack Rivera, who went four for four with two doubles and five runs batted in, helped the Patriots blow the game open in the following inning. He drove in two of the team's four runs in the fourth and Beckman jumped ahead, 10-1.
The deficit was too large for Newport Harbor to come back from. The only thing Murphy waited for were the three geese and they arrived on time.
Newport Elks Tournament
Beckman 11, Newport Harbor 4
SCORE BY INNINGS
Beckman 006 400 1 – 11 15 1
Newport Harbor 100 102 x – 4 7 1
Kaprielian, Heermann (6) and Hazard, Laflin (5); Gerard, Albert (4), Overstreet (5), Vetrovec (6) and McWhertor. W – Kaprielian, 1-0. L – Gerard, 0-1. 2B – Rivera 2 (B), Hazard (B), Barring (B), Ludin (B), Mestrin 2 (NH), Desguin (NH).