High School Baseball: Sage Hill holds on

NEWPORT COAST — The sun began to set in the top of the seventh inning at Sage Hill School on Tuesday. It was getting late, and with no lights, the team needed Max Strohman to finish off Tarbut V'Torah before it got dark.

Not everything went as planned in Sage Hill's 4-3 nonleague win. That tends to happen in the first baseball game of the season.

With Sage Hill leading by two runs in the seventh, the first batter Strohman faced reached second base after a throwing error on an infield single. He struck out the next two batters swinging, only to see another error keep the inning alive.

Then with baserunners on the corners, the lead was cut in half because of an error on a rundown between first and second base. Strohman had the runner on first picked off, until the Lightning threw the ball away, allowing a run to score and a runner to reach second.

The visiting dugout yelled that Strohman looked rattled. In a situation like this, with the tying run on second base, he couldn't get nervous and he had to forget about the three errors committed by his infield.

Strohman is only one of two seniors on the team. Sage Hill is going to rely on the right-hander to come through in tough spots. And he delivered as the closer, striking out the batter looking to earn the save and give Coach Danny Gonzales his first season-opening triumph during his three seasons in charge of the Lightning.

Sage Hill is off to a good start, even though it allowed Tarbut V'Torah to hang around late.

"I'd say a couple of mishaps on our part," said Gonzales, who also saw two of his players tagged out at the plate by the catcher in the fifth and sixth innings, ending rallies.

"[Monday] was actually the first time we got all of our guys together for a practice, because they've been out, you know, [playing] other sports."

For Gonzales' sake, the Lightning took the lead for the first time before the running mistakes.

Sage Hill came back from a two-run deficit, and with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the fifth, Sage Hill starter Parker Reposa earned the victory.

Harrison Rhee broke a 2-2 tie with timely hitting with the bases loaded. He singled straight to center field, driving in two runs.

"That third at-bat went particularly well," Rhee said. "I haven't been hitting in a while.

"My off-season [at-bats] weren't going too well. This is actually my first, like, solid hit."

A hitter's confidence will go up whenever an infield plays in.

That wasn't so much the case for Rhee. He said it was more of a mental approach that helped him. He wanted to stay inside the ball and make solid contact, which he did.

Reposa never returned for the sixth, going five strong innings in which he struck out six and allowed five hits and one walk and no earned runs.

Strohman came in relief and his first three pitches resulted in two outs.

His fourth pitch should've been the third out, but Brett Dunlavey was unable to catch Noah Katz's hard-hit line drive to right field. Strohman got out of the inning five pitches later by inducing a groundout.

Sage Hill was in position to add insurance runs in the bottom half of the sixth. Colby Bock led off with a walk, and after swiping second, Adam Ellingson moved Bock to third with a sacrifice bunt.

Reliever Gabe Katz got into trouble after hitting Kellen Ochi, whose triple in the second inning drove in two runs and tied the game at 2-2.

Ochi stole second base and the Lightning had runners in scoring position. Gabe Katz got the next batter to pop up to the mound. With Bock's brother, Conner, up, catcher Ari Mandell couldn't handle one of Katz's pitches. The ball went to his right, and Colby Bock hesitated down the third-base line, and then took off for home.

The ball wasn't far from Mandell and he recovered in time. He picked up the ball and raced back toward the plate to tag out Colby.

A parent joked that Conner was going to be upset for losing an at-bat because of his brother. Conner will surely take a win over another swing.



Sage Hill 4, Tarbut V'Torah 3


TVT 020 000 1 – 3 7 2

Sage 020 020 x – 4 4 4

Maister, G. Katz (4) and Mandell; Reposa, Strohman (6) and Fishel. W – Reposa, 1-0. L – G. Katz, 0-1. 3B – Ochi.


Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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