It wasn’t just a game matching No. 1 vs. No. 2 in high school baseball that brought out a capacity crowd of close to 1,500 to the new baseball stadium at the Great Park in Irvine on Wednesday night. It was more about the exceptional pitching matchup that will be difficult to duplicate at any point this season.
No. 1 La Mirada went with its ace, hard-throwing Jared Jones, a Texas signee. No. 2 Orange Lutheran went with its ace, UCLA signee Max Rajcic. More than two dozen excited professional scouts raised their radar guns trying to track velocity. The hitters deserved lots of sympathy. There were only three who got hits in the seven-inning game.
Orange Lutheran came away with a 2-0 victory. Rajcic threw a complete game, striking out eight batters, walking one and giving up one hit. Jones threw five innings, striking out six, walking three and giving up two hits.
“The atmosphere was electric with lots of red, lots of blue and a good turnout for high school baseball,” Rajcic said.
La Mirada (0-1) got into trouble in the second inning. The Lancers loaded the bases on an error, walk and an error on a bunt. Jones went to a 3-and-2 count on Cooper Gilmour before walking in a run. Orange Lutheran added a run in the fifth on a double by Tank Espalin.
The other star in the game was junior shortstop Justin DeCriscio of Orange Lutheran. He had six assists, showing off an arm as powerful as Rajcic and Jones.
“He as good defensively as any shortstop in California,” Lancers coach Eric Borba said.
Said Rajcic: “It’s awesome to have him there. I know he’ll make the plays. He’s one of the best infielders.”
Max Rajcic on the mound. Jared Jones at bat. Orange Lutheran vs. La Mirada. No. 2 vs. No. 1 https://t.co/Q0k6avWR3H— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) February 20, 2020
Rajcic showed off precision control of his four pitches, repeatedly getting ahead in the count and never letting La Mirada get into scoring position.
“He stepped up,” Borba said. “Max was as good as he’s been. He had all four pitches working. He always pounds the strike zone, but tonight it seemed like it was always 1 and 2.”
Rajcic got to hit against Jones and was impressed.
“That’s probably one of the dirtiest sliders I’ve ever seen,” he said. “His fastball is electric.”
The Lancers expect to see La Mirada again at the Boras Classic or in the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
The game itself, though, was a big hit. La Mirada coach Jimmy Zurn joined forces with Borba in setting up the game and renting the facility.
“Any time we can showcase these kids it’s an awesome opportunity,” Borba said.