Flintridge Prep baseball team gears up for quarterfinal playoff home contest

Karlsen Termini couldn't help but notice a gradual increase of fans who have flocked to the Glendale Sports Complex to watch the surging Flintridge Prep baseball team compete this season.

The contingent has seen quite a turnaround campaign from the Rebels, who gained a share of the Prep League championship since 1997 and won a playoff game for the first time since 1999.

Termini and the Rebels will have another chance to dazzle their fan base when fourth-seeded Flintridge Prep meets visiting Crean Lutheran at 3:15 p.m. Friday in a CIF Southern Section Division VI quarterfinal game at the Glendale Sports Complex.

"We are getting bigger crowds at our games and that's helped us out a lot," said Termini, who had three hits and drove in four runs Tuesday to lead visiting Flintridge Prep to a 6-3 second-round win against Kern Valley. "It's also great for the school and we want to make them proud.

"It's going to be awesome to be able to play on our home field with the dirt infield and portable mound. It's a big field that we are familiar with. It's been an awesome experience in being able to make this run. We have a team where you never know who will step in there and get the job done."

Flintridge Prep (17-8) figures to have a tough task ahead against Crean Lutheran (20-7). The Saints captured the Academy League championship and have allowed only one run in playoff victories against Mesa Grande Academy and Tarbut V'Torah. Crean Lutheran posted a 4-1 second-round win against Tarbut V'Torah on Tuesday.

The winner will meet top-seeded Desert Christian Academy or Webb in a semifinal contest Tuesday.

Flintridge Prep first-year Coach Guillermo Gonzalez, whose team split the league crown with Pasadena Poly and Webb, said pitching will be the biggest factor in trying to extend the season.

"You know the games are going to be a lot tighter now," said Gonzalez, who added that ace Brenden McKiernan will draw the starting assignment Friday. "It could also come down to a little thing, like a bunt to move somebody up.

"We know we will be going up against a good team. We gained a lot of confidence from coming back [against Kern Valley]. It means a lot to the program to get this far. It's one step better for our team now and in the future."

McKiernan, a right-hander, went the distance in Flintridge Prep's 14-6 first-round home win against Santa Paula on May 17. The Rebels and Saints, a fifth-year program, are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Crean Lutheran Coach Jake Haney said the Saints have relied on a balanced lineup, led by third baseman Chris Cooper.

"Chris holds the middle of our lineup together," Haney said. "He's got a lot of power and is disciplined at the plate.

"Some of the things we do can favor us. We know Flintridge Prep is extremely talented and they come from the best league in our division."

The other quarterfinal matchups will feature Pasadena Poly against Downey Calvary Chapel and third-seeded Capistrano Valley Christian against Frazier Mountain.

The division championship contest will be held at 4 p.m. June 1 at UC Riverside.

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