The Laguna Beach baseball team is at it again, this time by becoming the winningest team in the program's history.
Wednesday at Estancia, Laguna established the single-season record for victories in a season by defeating the Eagles, 2-0. The win puts the Breakers at 17-2 on the year, with eight league games remaining.
What's more, Laguna (7-0 in Orange Coast League) leads the rest of the Orange Coast League pack by two games.
"We had talked about it and it's nice to set the record," said Laguna Coach Jeff Sears, whose 2010 squad had set the previous single-season record for wins at 16.
The Breakers are ranked fourth this week in CIF Division 4.
The Eagles fell to 8-9 and 3-4 in league.
Senior pitcher Chris Paul (5-1) had a big hand in Wednesday's triumph. The right-hander decided the outcome of the game by delivering a two-out, two-run scoring single in the top of the fifth that gave the Breakers all they would need.
Paul singled sharply up the middle to knock in Larry Stewart and Robbie McInerny for the game's only runs. With one out, Stewart reached base after Estancia catcher Brodie Pearce let strike three get past him and McInerny laid down a perfect bunt that traveled a straight line just inside the third base line to put runners at first and second. Stewart and McInerny each advanced a base on a wild pitch, then Jones walked to load the bases. Paul took a 3-2 pitch to center field for the game-winning hit.
"We call that, 'paying the piper,' " Sears said. "That's when a hitter falls behind the pitcher and Chris came back to make him pay. When he lays the barrel on the ball, look out."
Wednesday's win was the second of the week for the Breakers over Estancia. On Tuesday, they scored a 9-6 victory over the Eagles at Laguna. The Breakers took advantage of eight walks and two hit batters. Sophomore Jackson Rees pitched the first five innings to get his fifth win of the season and run his record to 5-0. Keaton Jones closed the final two innings. Jones also doubled twice and Eric Peruzzi had a double.
Laguna also won the first meeting of the season between the schools, beating the Eagles, 5-1, on March 18 at Estancia. Paul also got the pitching win that day with a one-hit, 12-strikeout performance. He was also on the on the mound and got the win last year when the Breakers defeated Don Lugo to tie the previous school record for single-season wins.
"I have two balls in my bag from those wins," Sears said. "We're lucky to have Chris Paul on the mound in both instances.
"Today (Wednesday), Chris wasn't at his sharpest he's been, but he competed hard. This is a tough place to pitch because it can be so windy, but he got the job done."
Laguna next faces second-place Calvary Chapel in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Vanguard University. Laguna blanked Calvary Chapel, 11-0, in the team's first meeting on March 22.
"This was a good win for us," Sears said of Wednesday's win over defending league champion Estancia. "That was one of the goals for our guys."
Laguna's return to varsity Orange Coast League competition was a big success Tuesday as the Breakers handled host Estancia, 5-1. It was the program's first varsity league game in three years.
How much had the Breakers, who improved to 6-3 overall, anticipated their return?
"The girls were over-the-top excited," Laguna Coach Mike Hunter said. "Probably too excited. We had to get them to calm down and focus. Once we settled down, we were able to get off to a quick start. That was great to see."
The Breakers were anything but unsettled in the first inning as they shot out to a 5-0 lead and maintained control the remainder of the way.
In the top of the first, Haley Putnam lined a single to center before Kennedi Gherardini, Corey Kent and Bailey Romatowski all walked. The Breakers also capitalized on three passed balls to score runs and an RBI single by Taylor Romatowski made it 5-0. Laguna also showed improvement on defense early, highlighted by a key catch in right field in the second inning by Ali Lindsay.
The Breakers did commit an outfield error in the bottom of the fifth that led to Estancia's only run. Putnam, however, continued to finish off the Eagles and her complete-game effort included 10 strikeouts.
"Haley pitched a good game today," Hunter said. "I thought our catcher, Kennedi Gherardini, did a great job behind the plate. She read the game so well. She's a smart kid and for a sophomore, she's really developing.
"Other than a few fielding errors, I thought our defense did a nice job."
Veronica Clancy singled in the fifth and Katie Anderson singled in the seventh for Laguna.
"I'm just really happy for the kids that they got the win in their league debut," Hunter said. "This is a special group, a young group, that is trying to get this program heading in the right direction. They're dedicated to doing that."
Laguna hosts Godinez at 3:45 p.m. today in league play at Thurston Middle School.