SANTA ANA — Earlier in the week, when Corona del Mar High dropped its first baseball game, Coach John Emme said the Sea Kings stood no chance at winning the Foothill Bracket in the Newport Elks Tournament.
The Sea Kings wound up winning their pool and sneaked into the bracket's semifinals. Their reward was facing a team that Emme said CdM has never defeated in the past 13 seasons.
That changed Thursday, as Emme said CdM is now one victory away from claiming the tournament for the first time.
The Sea Kings went to Foothill and upset the Knights, 11-9, to advance to the championship game. The offense exploded after scoring one run in a loss on Tuesday.
The 11 runs and 15 hits, seven of which went for extra bases, are the most the Sea Kings have produced during the tournament. And they did most of the damage against Colin Welmon, who is bound for Loyola Marymount University.
Three scouts from Major League Baseball teams showed up to watch the right-hander throw against CdM. They put their radar guns down and left the stands after four innings because the Sea Kings hammered Welmon (0-1) for nine runs.
Next for CdM (3-1) is the title game at home on Saturday at 2 p.m. against a familiar foe, Beckman (4-0). Saturday is an SAT test day, but it is also a test on the field for the Sea Kings.
Can CdM contend for a Pacific Coast League title? The Patriots are the defending league champions and they are loaded again.
The early matchup between CdM and Beckman outside of league will surely be intense.
"We're going to get plenty of opportunities to face Beckman," Emme said with a smile.
"I'm sure Beckman wants to play us as little as we want to play [Beckman], but it's the championship."
For CdM players like Clark Cashion, getting a crack at Beckman is something he is looking forward to this weekend.
"They knocked us out of the [semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Southern Division] playoffs in football this [fall] and last year [the Patriots] had our number pretty much in baseball," Cashion said. "It will be fun to see them again, a little revenge."
Cashion made sure CdM got a shot to meet Beckman before league play. The catcher helped starting pitcher Eric Morris out.
The senior in the third inning threw out a runner at second base, who was leaning too far off the base, and he blocked the plate and tagged out a runner trying to score from second. The Sea Kings stayed ahead, 3-2.
If that was not enough of support, Cashion used his bat in the following inning to get Morris his first victory after a five-inning effort.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Cashion cleared the bases after he ripped a shot toward the gap in right-centerfield. Center fielder Nicholas Portillo dove and missed, easily allowing three runs to come around and score and for Cashion to reach third base safely.
Most catchers do not record triples, but at Foothill, there is a hill deep in the outfield, from center to right, that leads to the fence. Cashion's ball rolled up the hill. His hit was a big reason why Welmon came off his after the fourth inning.
Cashion was responsible for driving in half of CdM's six runs in the fourth against Welmon.
"We had a pretty anemic offense the other day [in a 6-1 loss to Katella] and we came out just swinging it," said Emme, who saw his team jump out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, thanks to Will Morrow driving in two runs during the stretch and finishing four of five with four runs batted in.
"This is a great [Foothill] program. This tells us that we can play with anybody."
The Sea Kings will find out if they can compete with Beckman Saturday.
Newport Elks Tournament
Corona del Mar 11, Foothill 9
SCORE BY INNINGS
CdM 210 620 0 – 11 15 4
Foothill 011 051 1 – 9 11 2
Morris, Salam (6), Hastings (7) and Cashion; Welmon, Layton (5) and Hughes. W – Morris, 1-0. L – Welmon, 0-1. 2B – Cashion 2 (CdM), Ford (CdM), Gardner (CdM), Lawson (CdM), Morrow (CdM), Atlee (F), Gandy (FH), Hoover (FH), Hughes (FH). 3B – Cashion (CdM), Gandy (FH), Hoover (FH).