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Beckman tops Northwood in PCL opener
IRVINE - Beckman’s baseball team couldn’t have had a much better Pacific Coast League opener Friday afternoon.
The No. 3-ranked Patriots opened with an 11-1 victory over Northwood at Beckman, improving their record to 7-1 overall with a 12-hit attack and some outstanding pitching and fielding. Four Patriot pitchers held Northwood to four hits.
Beckman broke the game open with six runs in the third inning. Northwood (4-4, 0-1) ended the shutout bid in the seventh on an RBI single by Jason Black driving in Andrew Kim, who singled with one out.
“Things kind of fell in for us today,” said Beckman coach Kevin Lavalle. “I thought we had a really good plan at the plate. Kevin Yonamine (Northwood starting pitcher) has beat us before. We were in a fortunate situation of having four days to (practice) hitting against him and it was a good team win and everybody got to play.
“I would like to sit here and think that we’re 10 runs better than Northwood. I know that we’re not and I know that the next two times we play those guys they’re going to be better than they were. I think those first seven games we played just kind of prepared us to not look ahead and not look toward the next inning and just playing it pitch by pitch.”
Beckman used senior Zach Espinosa on the mound for the first 4 1/3 innings. Espinosa (2-0) struck out four and allowed two hits. Lavalle also wanted to get some work for his other pitchers so he brought in Dean Kendall in the fifth, Collin Villegas in the sixth and Jared Platero in the seventh.
“In the beginning, a lot of it had to do with our defense,” Espinosa said. “Diving plays from (Connor) McGuire and (Willie) Lajoie really kept us in it. I was supposed to go as much as I needed to keep us in it, and once we pulled away, we started going to our bullpen so my job was just to keep us in the game and not let the other team score.”
Beckman was led by shortstop Matt McLain, who had four RBI, including a three-run home run in the fifth inning.
Catcher Austin Schell had two hits, including an RBI double in the third inning. Right fielder Jamie Zaverl had a two-run double in the third inning, McGuire had two hits and scored two runs and designated hitter Jake Groves had an RBI single.
“They’re a really good team,” McLain said of Northwood. “We played really well as a team. We’ve been working really hard out and practice and in the weight room and it’s starting to pay off but we’re nowhere near where we want to be and we’re going to keep going game by game, 110 percent and see what happens.”
McLain’s home run to left center in the fifth, his first of the year, put Beckman ahead, 11-0.
“I kind of had a feeling it was gone off the bat, but I didn’t know for sure,” McLain said. “It was just a good feeling.”
Northwood coach Rob Stuart came away impressed with Beckman.
“It got away from us there; they’re a pretty physical team,” Stuart said. “Things have to go perfect when you face a team like that. In that third inning, we need to make a couple of plays and sharpen up a little, but there is no shame in that loss.”
Designated hitter Thomas Lee had two hits for Northwood.
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