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JSerra flexes its arms strength in victory
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO - In the ultra-competitive Trinity League, each series is a showdown and each game a grind.
So when certain offensive situations didn’t pan out for JSerra’s baseball squad Friday night, Coach Brett Kay was quick to lean on his talented arms.
Backed by strong pitching performances from Jack Owen and Jake Pries, the top-ranked Lions outlasted visiting and No. 6-ranked Orange Lutheran, 3-1, in the clubs’ series finale.
“I still don’t think we’ve played our best baseball yet,” Kay said of his JSerra team, which took two out of three games from the Lancers. “When we’re pitching, playing defense and running on all cylinders on offense, we can be pretty good. We have to understand there is still better baseball to be played.”
Owen went 5 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits, while striking out six for the Lions (17-3, 4-2).
“I felt really good out there,” Owen said. “It was really easy to pitch once we took a 3-0 lead after three innings. I wanted to come out here and throw strikes, let my defense do a good job.”
The 6-foot-1 sophomore, who is committed to Mississippi State, took a perfect game into the fourth inning, striking out the first three batters of the game and retiring the first 11 Lancers in order. Garrett Mitchell’s two-out single to center field in the fourth inning broke up Owen’s flawless effort.
Orange Lutheran (15-6, 3-3) scored its lone run on Bobby Fulkerson’s two-out single to left field in the fifth inning.
“Jack gives us a chance to win every single time he touches the ball,” Kay said. “He’s a special pitcher that commands four pitches from both sides of the plate. He probably tired towards the end, but he’s as good as it gets at the high school level.”
Pries, a UCLA-bound senior, tossed 11/3 innings of scoreless ball in relief, striking out four, including the final three batters of the game to earn the save.
Orange Lutheran put a pair of runners in scoring position with two outs in the sixth, but Pries struck out the first batter he faced to end the threat.
JSerra grabbed a first-inning lead with back-to-back singles from Brady Shockey and Chase Strumpf. With runners on the corners and two outs, Strumpf took off from first and was caught in a rundown before being tagged out, but Shockey was able to scamper home for a run.
The Lions added another run in the second on Lyle Lin’s infield single, but a runners’ interference-turned-double play call at second base eliminated a chance for JSerra to break the game open.