CORONA DEL MAR — Coach John Emme said Tuesday would benefit the Corona del Mar High baseball team.
"We just found out we're not going undefeated," Emme said with a grin.
The Sea Kings' first setback of the season cost them a shot to reach the semifinals of the Newport Elks Tournament in the Foothill Division. All they had to do at home was beat Katella.
One run is all CdM managed as it lost the final pool-play game, 6-1. The run came on a solo home run by Brent Lawson in the first inning.
The rest of the Sea Kings tried to hit the ball in the air and that was their downfall. Left-handed starter Andy Judd kept CdM's batters off balance for seven innings and earned the Knights' first victory.
Katella does not have much pitching depth, so Coach Carlos Ayala was certainly glad to see Judd go the distance. The Sea Kings (2-1) probably would not have faced Judd if it were not for the Knights having to cancel their opener in the tournament on Friday.
Ayala said the city of Anaheim did not allow the Knights (1-1) to open the season at home last week.
"Because of so-called … liability, which in high school athletics, every individual is insured, every school is covered by their [school district]," Ayala said. "It was not a good situation.
"[My team] experienced a huge letdown from Friday night's game, because that's what you work for the whole year is that opening night. It was going to be under the lights."
Looking back, Emme wished Katella had played Friday. He said the Sea Kings got the short end of Katella not facing Patriot of Riverside that evening.
"We got the Patriot's No. 1 [pitcher] and Katella's No. 2 instead of the Patriot's No. 2 and Katella's No. 3," Emme said.
The Sea Kings were able to get past Patriot's ace and win, 6-0, on the road Saturday. Their consecutive shutout innings ended in the first inning against Katella.
The Knights jumped ahead, 3-0, and it was Judd, who helped his own cause. With the bases loaded, Judd drove in two runs with a single.
Katella had two more bases-loaded situations in the first, but CdM starter Andrew McCormack got out of trouble. Emme said the right-hander, making his second outing of the season, looked a little rusty.
McCormack played on the Sea Kings' basketball team, which saw its season end a couple of weeks ago in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs. The junior did not allow another run in the next three innings before Emme replaced him after four innings.
Brian Ford, who just recently joined the team after leading CdM's soccer team to the semifinals of the Division III playoffs, helped McCormack out. The center fielder threw out a runner trying to score from second base in the fourth inning.
While Emme marveled at Ford's ability to transition to another sport so smoothly, he noted that McCormack's situation is much different. Emme said that it might take McCormack, slated to be one of the team's aces, time to adjust since he is a pitcher.
"You can pitch all the bullpen [sessions] you want," said Emme, adding that it does not always translate into success during a game. "Andrew fell behind in a lot of counts and went deep in a lot of counts and that's not where he's successful. He's got to get ahead and hit his spots, keep the ball down.
"They hit nice line drives, but some of those balls definitely had eyes."
The ball that traveled the furthest was the one Katella's AJ David blasted in the sixth inning.
On Billy MacDonald's first offering to David, he belted the pitch over the center-field fence for a two-run homer. David's father went to go fetch the ball that gave the Knights a 6-1 lead.
Judd held the Sea Kings to five hits and one run, CdM's lowest production during the tournament. The Sea Kings resume tournament play Thursday.
"I think this [loss] will help us because guys learn that they have to adjust at the plate," Emme said.
"We had a lot of little pop-ups … on first pitch breaking balls and that's just a bad approach to the plate."
Newport Elks Tournament
Katella 6, Corona del Mar 1
SCORE BY INNINGS
Katella 300 012 0 – 6 12 0
CdM 100 000 0 – 1 5 0
Judd and Straten; McCormack, MacDonald (5), Salam (7) and Cashion. W – Judd, 1-0. L – McCormack, 0-1. 2B – Judd (K), Harrison (CdM), Cashion (CdM). HR – Lawson (CdM), David (K).