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Roundup: Orange Lutheran sprints into quarterfinals
It is a high school baseball axiom that the first team to make the big mistake will lose.
That big mistake happened in the eighth inning of the Orange Lutheran-Huntington Beach playoff game Tuesday. That’s when Orange Lutheran scored on a wild pitch to beat Huntington Beach, 4-3, in a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 second-round game at Huntington Beach.
Orange Lutheran (21-8) will play Murrieta Mesa in the quarterfinals Friday at Hart Park in Orange, the Lancers’ home field. They often play night games there. All quarterfinal-round playoff games have established 3:15 starting times, but Murrieta Mesa-Orange Lutheran could become a night game if Murrieta Mesa agrees to the time change and the CIF-SS office approves it.
Huntington Beach finished 20-11. The Oilers started the season as the No. 1 team in some preseason national rankings, endured the pressure of that and injuries throughout the season but still managed several accomplishments, including winning the prestigious National High School Invitational, finishing second in the always-tough Sunset League and winning a first-round away game to advance to the second round.
Orange Lutheran senior left-hander Chris Burica pitched seven innings to get the win and improve to 8-1. He has a 0.68 ERA. Burica took a line drive to his right shin in the second inning but kept going until Luke Mattson replaced him in the eighth.
Lancers freshman right fielder Jasiah Dixon hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning to tie it at 3-3. Senior left fielder Nathan Flores hit a double in the eighth inning, advanced to third base on a groundout and scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
In Huntington Beach’s half of the inning, with one out, Trevor Windisch’s ground ball resulted in a two-base throwing error to put him at second base. Mattson got the next two Oilers out to preserve the win.
Orange Lutheran coach Eric Borba was happy and relieved, but also felt badly for Huntington Beach
“You hate to see teams as talented as these two teams are, especially in the second round, have it come down to a wild pitch,” Borba said. “But it’s always the first team to make a mistake that loses, and we took advantage of that mistake.”
Huntington Beach took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Landon Silver singled and eventually scored on Nick Lopez’s single. J.J. Muratore followed with a hard grounder up the middle that caromed off of Burica’s right shin.
Borba checked on Burica, who convinced the coach that he could continue pitching.
“It should be all right,” Borba said of Burica’s shin. “It’s going to have a big balloon on there tomorrow.”
Huntington Beach’s Ben McConnell hit a two-run double in the third inning to push the lead to 3-0. Lutheran tied it with the fourth-inning home run by Dixon that cleared the high netting just to the right of the 275-foot sign in the left-field corner.
“A freshman, playing a huge role in a CIF playoff game,” Burica said. “That was huge for us.”
Also in Division 1:
Cypress 4, El Dorado 1: Ryan McCanless was 4 for 4 and Raul Salazar pitched a complete game for the visiting Centurions (25-7). They will play host to Harvard-Westlake of Studio City in the quarterfinals Friday.
In Division 2:
Foothill 8, Carter of Rialto 2: Cameron Dutcher drove in three runs and Nick Provenzano had three hits as the host Knights (24-7) advanced to the quarterfinals. They will play at top-seeded South Hills of West Covina on Friday.
In Division 3:
Beckman 8, Charter Oak of Convina 7: The visiting Patriots (23-6) had a 6-0 lead, gave up seven runs in the fourth inning, but rallied to advance to the quarterfinals. They will play be at Righetti of Santa Maria on Friday. Tyler Geurts was 2 for 2 for Beckman, as Coach Kevin Lavalle earned his 200th win.
Woodbridge 6, San Dimas 2: Aharon Modlin had three hits and Chase Bradley drove in two runs for the host Warriors (21-7), who will play at Bishop Amat of La Puente on Friday.
In Division 4:
Laguna Beach 4, Patriot of Jurupa Valley 0: Ashton Goddard pitched a shutout as the visiting Breakers (18-10) beat the top-seeded Warriors.
In Division 6:
Crean Lutheran 20, Palm Valley 0: The Saints (21-7) were led by Ryan Gaynor’s four RBI. They have scored 35 runs in two playoff games.
Sage Hill 12, Temecula Prep 0: Ashwin Chona struck out 12 and allowed only two hits in six innings, and Edward Pelc and Toby Bush contributed three hits apiece for the visiting Lightning (24-1), who extended their winning streak to 24 games. Chona is 11-0.
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