CORONA DEL MAR — Andrew McCormack arrived at Corona del Mar High six hours before the Sea Kings' baseball game. He was about to take the SAT at eight in the morning Saturday.
The junior tried to focus on the exam, but he was not going to lie. He thought a little about the afternoon's ballgame. It was a big one against Beckman for the Newport Elks Tournament Foothill Bracket title.
When the test was over, McCormack was unsure how he performed on the SAT. He sure scored high in the batter's box.
McCormack picked a good time to record his first three hits of the season. He almost hit for his first cycle.
McCormack homered, doubled, singled, and drove in five runs as the Sea Kings continued to pound the ball. The latest onslaught gave CdM an 18-14 victory against a Pacific Coast League rival to win the tournament for the first time under Coach John Emme.
Heck, the tournament was the first any CdM team has won in Emme's 14 seasons in charge. It felt good to the Sea Kings to do it against Beckman, which suffered its first loss.
The Sea Kings claimed the title after surviving a slugfest. The two teams combined for 32 runs, 26 hits, six home runs, six doubles and one triple. In all, the offenses hammered 11 pitchers.
McCormack reminded everyone that this is the first of four rounds between CdM (4-1) and Beckman (4-1) this season.
"We've had trouble beating them before," McCormack said of the defending league champion Patriots, who swept the three-game series in league with CdM last season. "It's nice to beat them once, but we'll see them another three times and it's going to be another three tough games."
In those next games in league play, expect the Sea Kings and Patriots to use their top starting pitchers.
A crown was at stake Saturday, but both Emme and Beckman Coach Kevin Lavalle did not send their respective aces to the mound. The Pacific Coast League title means a lot more to each team.
The Sea Kings showed they are going to contend for first in league, which Beckman has won the past two seasons.
The offense displayed by CdM impressed Lavalle. In the last two games of the tournament, the Sea Kings scored a combined 29 runs against strong programs, Foothill and Beckman.
From the start, CdM went to work at the plate. Will Morrow sparked a four-run first inning with a triple. Brent Lawson knocked him in with a double to right-center field. Then it was Aaron White's turn and he drove in two runs with the bases loaded.
McCormack followed with a single down the left-field line, picking up one runner. More importantly, McCormack broke out of a 0-for-7 slump.
He had a good excuse for his early struggles. He joined the team right after helping the CdM boys' basketball team to the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs on Feb. 22.
"It was rough for a little bit, but I'm starting to get back in the groove," McCormack said. "The whole team is helping me out … trying to get me back up to speed. Coming back from basketball after our run, it just gave me the desire to win in baseball."
What McCormack has only lost is his afro.
While his basketball coach, Ryan Schachter, likes McCormack's hair long, which McCormack said makes him look like Will Ferrell's character Jackie Moon in the movie Semi-Pro, Emme is not a fan of the hairdo.
McCormack cut his hair to look more like a baseball player.
After a slow start, McCormack is now playing like one.
With the bases loaded, he helped the Sea Kings produce an eight-run second inning. He cleared the bases with a double to center field.
The doubles continued for two other teammates, Brian Ford and Morrow, in the second inning.
Ford collected two runs batted in, and Morrow, who went three for four, got one to give CdM a 12-1 lead.
Beckman responded in the next two innings by scoring six runs.
Half of them came in the fourth inning when Zack Rivera belted a three-run homer, which cut the deficit to 13-7.
On two swings in the bottom half of the fourth, the Sea Kings got their 11-run lead back. Lawson blasted a grand slam to center, and three batters later, White hit a solo homer to left.
CdM starter Josh Harrison appreciated the run support. He left after four innings and improved to 1-0.
Lawson and White joined McCormack as the three CdM hitters to homer. Lawson, who had a homer, double, two singles, and a team-best six RBIs, missing hitting for the cycle like McCormack, explained why the Sea Kings are on fire offensively.
"Hitting is contagious," said Lawson, who is hoping the bats stay hot on Tuesday, when CdM plays host to a Battle of the Bay doubleheader against rival Newport Harbor.
Emme said he plans to start one of his aces in McCormack on the mound in the first game. The only test McCormack has to focus on now is Newport Harbor.
Newport Elks Tournament
Corona del Mar 18,
SCORE BY INNINGS
Beck 013 321 4 – 14 10 2
CdM 481 500 x – 18 16 2
Barring, Heermann (2), Daurio (2), Faulwell (3), Cook (4), Brown (5) Deneen (6) and Hazard, Laflin (4); Harrison, MacDonald (5), Salam (5), Hastings (7) and Cashion. W – Harrison, 1-0. L – Barring, 0-1. 2B – Navarro (B), Ludin (B), Lawson (CdM), McCormack (CdM), Ford (CdM), Morrow (CdM). 3B – Morrow (CdM). HR – Barring (B), Rivera (B), Cook (B), McCormack (CdM), Lawson (CdM), White (CdM).