Stewart's return keys Laguna victories

Larry Stewart made his return this week to the diamond, playing as though he never missed a beat.

Stewart, an all-league performer last year, helped the Laguna Beach High baseball team big Orange Coast League victories over Godinez and Costa Mesa. The Breakers on Tuesday rolled past visiting Costa Mesa, 18-2. On March 23, they were 10-4 winners at Godinez.

The two wins pushed Laguna above .500 in league play at 3-2. The Breakers are 6-4 overall and travel on Friday to face Saddleback.

Stewart, who had appendectomy surgery prior to the start of the season, returned to action March 21 and had two at-bats in a game against Costa Mesa (a 4-0 Breakers win). In Wednesday's 18-2 win over the Mustangs, Stewart went five for six with two runs batted in and scored three runs. Steven Harrison had a home run and three RBIs and junior Jackson Rees recorded the win, his first of the season.

"We hit really well, played solid defense, Rees threw great, and we took advantage of some Costa Mesa mistakes, which resulted in a lopsided score and a great league win," Laguna Coach Mike Bair said.

In the March 23 win at Godinez, Stewart — whom Mike Bair said, "shook off some rust" — took the mound and earned his first win of the season. Grant Wilhelm broke open a tight game with a three-run home run and Blake Hester went three for four with three RBIs.

"It was great to see Stewart compete and figure things out as the game went along," Bair said. "Godinez gave us a tough game, but some timely hits at the end moved us to victory."

Bair said that junior Kurt Rebone will start Friday at Saddleback.

On Saturday, Laguna begins play at the Lions Tournament with a doubleheader at Boysen Park in Anaheim. The Breakers play Western Christian (Upland) at 10 a.m., followed at 1 p.m. with a game against Kelso of Washington. They also play tournament games on Monday against Fullerton, Tuesday against Buena Park at 7:30 p.m. at Ameriage Park in Fullerton, and Wednesday against a-to-be-determined opponent.

Laguna returns to league play at 3:15 p.m. Thursday with a home game against Costa Mesa, which completes the three-game season series between the teams.



The Breakers started their Orange Coast League schedule on a high note Tuesday by rolling to a 10-0 victory over visiting Estancia in a game halted by the mercy rule at Thurston Middle School in Laguna Beach.

Jordan Hartman hit a solo home run in the first inning to give the Breakers (8-4) a 1-0 lead. A two-run double by senior Carissa Collins in the second inning increased the lead to 3-0. Junior all-league catcher Kennedi Gherardini delivered a big blow in the fifth with a grand slam.

Junior all-league pitcher Haley Putnam struck out seven in the shutout.

"We really hit well today," Laguna Coach Alan Ludloff said of an offense that produced three home runs and three doubles. "My favorite at bat was Kennedi Gherardini's 12-pitch at-bat. She kept fouling them off end then hit a 260-foot home run.

"Defensively, we made all the routine plays and mixed in two spectacular plays by Jen Sorenson and Cory Kent."

Laguna also was an 11-4 nonleague winner March 22 over Santa Ana in a game where the Breakers had trailed, 4-1. Key hits for the Breakers included a three-run double by junior Karina Reis that came with bases loaded in the third inning, and Sorenson did the same with a three-run double in the sixth. Kent and Putnam delivered solo home runs.

Freshman Halle Redfearn struck out five in seven innings for the win and freshman second baseman Katyn Ott turned two double plays.

"We were down (4-1) going into the third and not playing well defensively," Ludloff said. "As we were coming to bat in the bottom of third, I told the team we were not going to give up any more runs and we were going to score 10 runs. The team responded well scoring four in that inning and we held them defensively the rest of the game. It's good to see that we can bounce back when we are down."

Laguna played a league game Thursday against Calvary Chapel. The score wasn't available at press time. On Friday, the Breakers host La Quinta of Westminster in a 4 p.m. nonleague game at Thurston.

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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