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Harvard-Westlake freshman Bryce Rainer deserves comparison to first-round draft picks

Freshman Bryce Rainer of Harvard-Westlake struck out nine in five innings to improve to 8-0.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

To understand what 15-year-old freshman Bryce Rainer of Studio City Harvard-Westlake has accomplished in his first high school baseball season, you have to be reminded that two first-round draft picks out of the same school, Jack Flaherty and Lucas Giolito, never reached a similar skill level as freshmen.

“I can’t think of a freshman who’s had better numbers,” said Harvard-Westlake athletic director Matt LaCour, who coached Flaherty and Giolito.

On Tuesday in a second-round Southern Section Division 1 playoff game, Rainer became the first Harvard-Westlake freshman to earn a playoff victory. He struck out nine in five innings and allowed one hit in a 13-0 victory over Arcadia. He’s 8-0 this season and batting .391. The impact he’s had speaks for itself in comparison to pitchers Flaherty and Giolito. Flaherty was 6-2 with a 2.51 ERA as a freshman in 2012. Giolito was 1-0 with a 5.91 ERA in 2009.

“Lucas didn’t throw enough strikes as a freshman,” LaCour said. “Jack did throw many strikes, but Jack’s stuff as a pitcher was steady progress through the years. He didn’t come in as a freshman with the stuff Bryce has. Bryce is also a pure hitter.”

Yes, Rainer could still end up being a better hitter than pitcher if you believe his coaches. It’s going to be the same situation Flaherty faced early in his high school days when he was a third baseman and pitcher and people wondered what skill he’d be better at.

“I’m not quite sure what he’s going to be,” LaCour said.

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Said Rainer: “I say I like both.”

Pitching coach Joe Guntz marvels at Rainer’s abilities.

“He’s special,” Guntz said. “He’s the best freshman I’ve seen at this level.”

Catcher Jakob Galloway said Rainer’s command was his best this season as far as accuracy with his pitches.

“Our team came out and hit really well today,” said Rainer, who’s committed to UCLA.

The No. 2-seeded Wolverines (26-4) scored six runs in the fourth inning to open a 7-0 lead. Two runs came home on wild pitches. Alex Shane had an RBI single, Andrew Citron contributed a two-run double and George Cooper added an RBI single. Bennett Markinson and Jordan Kang each finished with three hits. Harvard-Westlake will face Cypress in the quarterfinals.

JSerra 4, Capistrano Valley 0: The top-seeded Lions got a combined no-hitter in their Division 1 opener. Gage Jump struck out 13 in six innings.

Orange Lutheran 5, Mira Costa 1: Mikey Romero went three for three to help the Lancers advance to a quarterfinal game against Bishop Amat.

Ayla 3, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 2: Jacob Badawi hit a leadoff home run. He and Ty Borgogno finished with two hits each. Jack Gurevitch went three for three for Notre Dame.

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Cypress 4, King 2: Neil Jansen hit a two-run home run in the sixth to lead Cypress. Braden Genera struck out seven and walked none in six innings.

Corona 4, Huntington Beach 3: Freshman Josh Springer had two hits and two RBIs, and freshman Ethan Schiefelbein struck out 14 in six innings for Corona.

Vista Murrieta wins the Southern Section Division 5 golf crown. Jillian Kelly fans 12 in El Camino Real’s City softball playoff victory over Legacy.

Bishop Amat 8, La Mirada 2: Tyler White contributed two hits and Jake Hernandez, Adrian Verduzco and Jose Marquez each had two RBIs to lead Bishop Amat.

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Yucaipa 9, Damien 7: Aiden Richert had three RBIs for Yucaipa and Carter Herrera struck out six in 4 1/3 innings.

Sierra Canyon 10, Gahr 1: Jackson Slipock hit a three-run home run and Jaden Noot had three hits. Sierra Canyon set up a huge Division 2 pitching showdown for Friday matching Noot against Trabuco Hills’ Mason Molina at Trabuco Hills.

Thousand Oaks 6, Mission Viejo 2: Dylan Jackson and Max Muncy hit home runs for Thousand Oaks, seeded No. 1 in Division 2.

Trabuco Hills 16, Quartz Hill 4: Mason Molina hit two home runs and finished with six RBIs.

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Fountain Valley 3, Chino Hills 2: Blake Wentz came through with two innings of shutout relief.

Palos Verdes 6, Sonora 3: Jamie Robertson had a two-run single for Palos Verdes.

Camarillo 6, Corona del Mar 3: Matt Lopez finished with three hits and JT Schardt had two hits and two RBIs to lead the Scorpions. Brian Uribe allowed one run in five innings.

Los Alamitos 2, El Dorado 1: The Griffins advanced.

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Royal 11, Montebello 3: Troy May blasted a three-run home run.

Saugus 3, Redlands East Valley 1: Connor Bates struck out two and walked none in a complete game. Michael DeSantiago had two hits and two RBIs.

Hart 5, Cerritos 2: Freshman Brayden Jefferis hit a two-run home run and Matt Quintanar had three hits for Hart, seeded No. 1 in Division 3.

Calabasas 4, Lakewood 1: Chase Call had three hits for the Coyotes, who will play Hart on Friday.

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El Camino Real 9, Sylmar 1: Josh Wood struck out seven in six innings and Josh Klein had three hits for El Camino Real in a City Section Open Division playoff opener. The Conquistadores will play Roosevelt in the quarterfinals.

Yorba Linda 2, Alemany 1: Yorba Linda held on and will play Camarillo in a Division 2 quarterfinal.

Softball

Norco 15, Los Alamitos 1: Mya Perez had five hits for the 27-1 Cougars, who hit four home runs. Alyssa Hovermale hit two home runs.

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Villa Park 3, Downey 0: Sydney Somerndike struck out six and allowed one hit.

Esperanza 5, Murrieta Mesa 2: The Aztecs pulled out the 11-inning win on a walk-off three-run home run from Hannah Coor.

Eastvale Roosevelt 5, Garden Grove Pacifica 2: It took nine innings before Roosevelt prevailed.

Westlake 13, Grand Terrace 0: Kylie Chung struck out 14 in six innings.

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Lacrosse

Loyola 9, Foothill 7: In the first Southern Section Division 1 championship lacrosse game, the Cubs came away victorious behind Matteo Silvestri, who scored four goals. Aidan Lee added three goals and Owen Gaffney two.

St. Francis 15, Culver City 8: The Golden Knights won the Division 2 championship.


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