Freshman Bryce Rainer pitches Harvard-Westlake into Division 1 championship game
Freshman Bryce Rainer, 15, stood on the mound in the top of the seventh inning on a scorching Tuesday afternoon in Encino. Orange Lutheran had runners on second and third with two outs in the Southern Section Division 1 semifinal game. He had thrown 95 pitches. The Harvard-Westlake coaches refused to pull him for the team’s closer. Catcher Jacob Galloway gave him a quick pep talk.
“This is it. This is the last guy. Let’s do this.”
Pitch No. 96 to Orange Lutheran pinch-hitter Richard Tejada was a curveball fouled off. Pitch No. 97 was a fastball swung and missed. Pitch No. 98 was a high fastball called for a third strike. Teammates sprinted out of the dugout to celebrate a 3-2 victory that sends the No. 2-seeded Wolverines (28-4) into the Division 1 final against No. 1 San Juan Capistrano JSerra.
“He didn’t lose his stuff,” pitching coach Joe Guntz said of Rainer, who improved to 9-0 by striking out nine while giving up four hits and walking two. “He was attacking. When you have a special kid, you have to trust him. He grew up fast.”
Bennett Markinson hit a first-inning home run for Harvard-Westlake. Orange Lutheran ace Louis Rodriguez was removed in the second inning after RBI singles by David Lozano and George Cooper. Chris Canada shut out Harvard-Westlake the rest of the game, but the Lancers could never really solve Rainer, who kept them off balance with his slider and curveball. Only in the seventh did they apply pressure, getting an RBI single from Max Andeel.
Rainer never changed his expression. He was methodical, poised and unflappable through the final strikeout.
JSerra 11, Ayala 4: Cody Schrier, Colin Blanchard and Luke Jewett hit home runs to rally the Lions in the Division 1 semifinals. Jewett went three for three. Jacob Badawi had three hits for Ayala.
Thousand Oaks 10, Bonita 3: Matt Muncy hit a three-run home run, his 11th of the season, and Roc Riggio hit his 12th home run, to help the 28-1 Lancers advance to the Division 2 championship game. The Lancers have hit 42 home runs this season.
Royal 4, Paraclete 1: Trevor Hansen struck out six and threw a complete game and RJ Feigenbaum went three for three to help Royal reach the Division 4 championship game. Royal will play Rancho Cucamonga, a 2-0 winner over Murrieta Mesa.
Long Beach Millikan 2, Hart 1: Millikan upset the No. 1-seeded Indians in the Division 3 semifinals. The Rams will play Riverside Arlington, an 7-6 win over Palos Verdes.
Citrus Valley 14, Laguna Hills 13: Travis Williams had three doubles in a Division 5 semifinal. Citrus Valley will play Cajon, a 5-4 winner over North Torrance in eight innings.
Sierra Canyon 94, Birmingham 74: Amari Bailey scored 28 points for the Trailblazers, who will host Etiwanda in a Thursday Open Division semifinal.
Damien 102, Santa Maria St. Joseph 71: USC-bound Malik Thomas finished with 33 points. Damien will play at top-seeded Torrey Pines on Thursday.
West Hills Chaminade 79, Clovis North 76: Keith Higgins scored 29 points and KJ Simpson and Colin Weems added 20 apiece in a Division 1-A opener.
Harvard-Westlake 78, San Joaquin Memorial 70: Cameron Thrower scored 19 points for the Wolverines.
Narbonne 67, Long Beach Poly 65: The Gauchos upset the top-seeded Jackrabbits in a 2-A opener. Devean Williams scored 24 points and Bryce Adams returned from a foot injury to score 20 points.
Corona Centennial 79, La Jolla Country Day 44: The Huskies won their Open Division regional playoff opener. Londynn Jones scored 25 points and Jayda Curry 18.
High school baseball: City and Southern Section playoff results and updated pairings
El Camino Real 6, Carson 0: Jillian Kelly pitched the Conquistadores into the City Section Open Division championship game. The Conquistadores executed on bunts and relied on Kelly’s pitching.
Granada Hills 8, San Pedro 7: Ella Ludden pitched a complete game to set up an all-West Valley League Open Division championship game.
Youseong Choi of Anaheim Discovery Christian shot a seven-under-par 65 at Brookside Golf Course to win the CIF/SCGA Southern California boys’ golf championship. Anaheim Servite won the team title.
Emiko Sverduk of Long Beach Wilson won the girls’ individual title with a three-under 68. Fullerton Troy took the team title.
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