The Laguna Beach baseball team has set the new standard for the program.
A stirring run to begin the 2011 season caught the eye of many who — outside Laguna circles — didn't really take much notice of the Breakers before the season's first pitch. That all changed when Laguna ran off 14 victories to establish a new school record and creep into the CIF Southern Section Division 4 rankings, where it currently holds down the No. 5 spot.
The Breakers picked up victory No. 12 March 31 by walloping visiting Saddleback, 25-0, in an Orange Coast League game. The streak grew two more games when the Breakers opened play at the Anaheim Lions Tournament on Saturday with wins over Ramona (7-5) and Peninsula (2-0). It ended, however, Monday in a 6-1 tournament loss at Pacifica of Garden Grove. On Tuesday, the Breakers were edged by host Sunny Hills, 8-7, in another tournament game.
Laguna got back on the winning track Wednesday by defeating Villa Park in eight innings, 7-5, to complete a 3-2 run in the tournament.
"I was pleased with how we did, although we didn't close that one game against Sunny Hills," Coach Jeff Sears said. "We played a lot of baseball in a very short period and it's tough to go to school, get your homework done and then play a game. It's about time management and that can be tough to teach young kids. It was nice to see us end the tournament with a win over Villa Park."
Laguna 7, Ramona 5: Laguna took a 4-0 lead through 4 1/2 innings, but Ramona scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie, then the Breakers outscored the Rams, 3-1, over the final two innings for the win in their opening game of the Lions Tournament on Saturday. Senior Eric Peruzzi tripled and doubled and freshman Steven Harrison and junior Alex Iannotti also doubled. Sophomore Robbie McInerny (1-0) got his first win of the season in relief of starter Jake Herbert.
Laguna 2, Peninsula 0: In their second tournament game Saturday, senior Keaton Jones (1-0) got the win behind a three-hitter and tripled on offense and Chris Paul also tripled to get the Breakers, who scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning, past the Panthers.
Pacifica/Garden Grove 6, Laguna 1: The Breakers fell behind, 3-0, and host Pacifica pulled away by scoring three runs in the sixth Monday to hand the error-plagued Breakers their first loss of the season. Chris Paul doubled and suffered his first loss (4-1) of the season.
Sunny Hills 8, Laguna 7: The Breakers took a seemingly safe, 7-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth but host Sunny Hills exploded for six runs in the inning to pull out a one-run victory. Steven Harrison, Keaton Jones, senior Austin Paxson and junior Travis Clawson all doubled for Laguna.
Laguna 7, Villa Park 5: Like the Sunny Hills game, the Breakers gave up two late runs that allowed Villa Park to tie the score in the bottom of the seventh, but this time they responded by scoring two runs in the top of the eighth to get their 15th win.
In the top of the eighth, Harrison drew a walk, Herbert was hit by pitch and Iannotti singled to load the bases. McInerny brought in the winning run by drawing a walk and Jones gave Laguna a two-run cushion with his RBI single to left. The Breakers then shut down the Spartans in the bottom of the eighth.
Jones collected his second win of the tournament in relief of starter Larry Stewart, who Sears said threw a "solid 5 2/3 innings."
Jones was named to the all-tournament team.
The remainder of the season is all about Orange Coast League play for the Breakers, who at 15-2, have tied the 2007 team for the second-most wins in a single season. The school single-season record for victories is 16, set by last year's team. Laguna also leads the league pack after the first round of play with a 5-0 record. The Breakers begin second-round play next week with back-to-back games against Estancia. The first is 3:15 p.m. Tuesday at Laguna, followed by a 3:15 p.m. game Wednesday at Estancia.
Sears said he wasn't sure who among his pitching staff would get the start Tuesday.
"We'll decide after practice Friday," he said "We have four great arms to choose from. Larry Stewart, Jackson Rees, Chris Paul and Keaton Jones all have been throwing very well.
"We have 10 league games to go, but all we are tying to do is win the day, whether it be in the weight room, or on the practice field. It all starts there."
The prelude is over. It's time for a return to Orange Coast League softball.
Laguna completed the nonleague portion of its 2011 schedule March 31 against Santa Ana. The visiting Saints outscored the Breakers by three runs over the final four innings to come away with a 4-2 win at Thurston Middle School.
Laguna catcher Kennedi Gherardini hit a towering home run in the second inning and Haley Putnam had a sacrifice RBI in the third to lift the Breakers to a 2-0 lead. Santa Ana was able to take advantage of a few Laguna errors to take a 3-2 lead, a rally that began with a solo home run by Viviana Tovar in the top of the fourth.
The Breakers were able to get singles from Taylor Romatoski, Veronica Clancy, Karinna Reiss and Jordan Hartman, but couldn't score again. The Saints added an unearned run in the seventh to complete the scoring.
Putnam finished with one earned run and seven strikeouts.
The loss left Laguna 5-3 in nonleague play.
"I've really been impressed by what our girls have done," Laguna Coach Mike Hunter said. "It's a young team with a lot of freshmen and sophomores and just one junior. One thing they've shown me is that they are resilient. We've made a lot of errors, but the kids seem to bounce back. They have no quit in them and that's surprising to see in such a young team. I'm very proud of them for that."
On Tuesday , the Breakers will play their first varsity league game in three years when they travel to face Estancia. First pitch by Putnam is at 3:15 p.m.
"Haley will get the start, as she has in each of our eight games," Hunter said of his ace, who has a 1.46 earned-run average. "She has thrown every pitch, every inning, in all of our games and has done a really great job."