CORONA DEL MAR — After throwing his first complete game of the season, Coach John Emme said Andrew McCormack went to throw out the trash.
During his seven innings of work for Corona del Mar High on Friday, what McCormack threw off the mound was no junk.
Masterful is the word Emme used to describe McCormack's performance. He needed to turn in a near-dominating effort.
Beckman, the Pacific Coast League champion the past three baseball seasons, came to CdM to open league play. The Patriots left with only their fourth league setback in the past four seasons.
McCormack and the Sea Kings made a statement in their 3-2 upset.
"It lets us know that we can play with anybody," Emme said. "We felt that way."
The Sea Kings (6-2, 1-0 in league) proved they're on the same level as Beckman, which won the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title last season.
The Patriots (5-3, 0-1), ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 poll, expect a challenge from No. 10 CdM now in league. They sent their ace, James Kaprielian, out and the Sea Kings' top hurler outpitched him.
This will not be the last time McCormack and Kaprielian go against each other. They will take their acts to college, McCormack to Stanford and Kaprielian to UCLA.
The first matchup of the two seniors went to McCormack. The right-hander struck out eight and allowed one earned run and three hits, while walking two.
The key to McCormack's success was changing speeds on his fastball and using his change-up.
"They were very aggressive and they were out in front a little bit," McCormack said. "They expected me to throw a bunch of fastballs, as I have in the past.
"It's fun to compete with the best because it brings the best out of you."
McCormack made the most of his outing and improved to 3-0. Helping him early was a lead.
The Sea Kings jumped on Kaprielian in the first inning. Brett Thompson led off with a double, and then Brent Lawson followed up with an extra-base hit of his own.
When the inning was over, CdM led, 3-0.
"It doesn't happen very often," Beckman Coach Kevin Lavalle said of seeing the opposition score three runs on Kaprielian that early.
"I wasn't surprised they scored three runs [in the game], but I was kind of surprised it went … Boom! Boom! Boom!"
The fireworks ended after Kaprielian (2-1) settled down. The rest of the way, he shut out the Sea Kings and finished with seven strikeouts.
At no point was Emme comfortable with a three-run lead against Beckman. The Patriots, who went 42-3 during their three-year run in league, have a potent offense.
One of the few mistakes McCormack made hurt him in the top of the fourth inning. He walked the leadoff batter, and a couple of hits later, the Patriots trailed, 3-2.
That is as close the Patriots got to McCormack. One hitter, Jake Hazard, tried to take McCormack's head off in the seventh inning.
McCormack didn't even flinch, catching a line drive hit right at him. He pumped his right arm after the second out.
With the game on the line, Emme was happy to see a fiery McCormack.
McCormack said he was just grinding away. He said the Sea Kings are going to have to do just that as a collective unit in order to bring home the program's first league title in six years and return to the postseason after missing it last season for only the second time in Emme's first 14 seasons at the helm.
When Emme asked him before the seventh how his arm felt, there was no way McCormack was giving up the ball.
"As a senior, I want to be in this game," McCormack said. "I want the ball in my hand."
Pacific Coast League
Corona del Mar 3,
SCORE BY INNINGS
Beckman 000 200 0 – 2 3 1
CdM 300 000 x – 3 8 1
Kaprielian and Dey; McCormack and Lawson. W – McCormack, 3-0. L – Kaprielian, 2-1. 2B – Thompson (CdM), Lawson (CdM).