With Prep League play scheduled to begin next week, Flintridge Prep baseball Coach Buzz Cook would like to have some semblance of a starting pitching staff capable of throwing strikes and getting outs on a consistent basis.
Cook has yet to see it in the first four games of the season.
“I'd like to see us shore that up,” said Cook, whose team suffered a 12-7 road loss to neighbor La Cañada in a Southern California Invitational Blue Division semifinal game. “It's all about pitching and defense.
“There's no shame giving up hits, but when you walk people, you don't get that sense that they are getting the job done. They have got to challenge hitters, throw strikes and have faith in their defense.”
The Rebels (3-1) have yielded a combined 36 runs in four tournament games against Santa Paula, Morningside, Buckley and La Cañada. Fortunately, they have scored 52.
“I don't like the odds of giving up 12 runs,” said Cook, whose team will meet host L.A. Baptist in the third-place game at 11 a.m. today. “We have come back from two huge deficits already, and a third time would be asking a bit much.”
La Cañada (4-0) led throughout and will meet Grace Brethren in the championship contest at 11 a.m. today at Royal High.
The Spartans took advantage of Flintridge Prep sophomore starting pitcher Royce Park (1-1). Park, a right-hander, walked five and allowed nine runs (all earned) in 2 1/3 innings.
“The thing that bothered me the most was the inability to throw strikes on Royce's part,” said Cook, who guided the Rebels to an appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs last season. “He's got to go out there and challenge the hitters.”
The Spartans took advantage of Park's wildness from the start.
Adam Overgaard scored from second on a wild pitch with two outs to give La Cañada a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. La Cañada scored twice in the second on a passed ball and Overgaard's run-scoring single to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Rebels responded with a pair of runs in the third. Park and Nick Ostiller each drove in a run with back-to-back singles to cut the lead to 3-2.
Then the floodgates opened quickly on the Rebels, who surrendered eight runs in the bottom of the inning. Cole Kendall, Timothy Kim and Troy Marderosian each drove in runs to give the Spartans a 9-2 lead.
“We have had big innings in all four of our games,” La Cañada Coach Dennis Ballard said. “We have scored lots of runs in the middle innings.
“A lot of our hitters are legit. One time around the lineup they take a look at the pitcher. Then they see a few pitches in their next at-bats and they get a feeling.”
Trailing 12-2 entering the sixth, the Rebels pushed across five runs to pull to within 12-7. Ostiller scored on a wild pitch by reliever Sooa Chun (1-0) to make it 12-3.
Alex Sierra had a two-run single to cut the lead to 12-5 and Kyle McDonald and Connor McCann had run-scoring hits to close out the scoring.
The Rebels will begin league play at 3 p.m. Tuesday against Chadwick at the Glendale Sports Complex.