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Fryer: Laguna Beach one win away from O.C. record
Baseball has many “don’t jinx it” superstitions, like not discussing a potential no-hitter that is in progress.
Laguna Beach this week might set the Orange County baseball record for consecutive league wins. The Breakers tied the county record Friday with a win over Estancia, the Breakers’ 45th consecutive Orange Coast League win.
They would break the record if they beat Calvary Chapel on Tuesday in a league game at Vanguard University. They are aware of that and they are talking about it.
“The kids know all about it,” Laguna Beach coach Mike Bair said. “They’ve known about it for three weeks now. I don’t think the kids are aware of the scope of this, but one day they will look back and realize how awesome it was to be part of this.”
The 45 league wins in a row record was set twice by La Quinta, first in 2001-05 and equaled in 2005-08. Getting No. 46 will not be easy for Laguna Beach, which is alone in first place in the Orange Coast with an 11-0 league record and is 16-6 overall. Calvary Chapel is in second place, at 9-2 in league and 18-5 overall.
A win Tuesday would also clinch a share of the league championship for Laguna Beach.
The Breakers are a youngish team, with a few sophomore starters and some freshmen who are impact players.
“Our defense has been really good,” said Bair, the Breakers’ coach throughout the winning streak. “We’re averaging one run or less per game which has been great. Our batting order, our 1 through 9 hitters, give us quality at-bats every time.”
Bair said the Laguna Beach leaders include senior outfielder Anthony Norelli, who tops the team in hits (27) and runs scored (25), junior first baseman Alex Baker, who is batting .383 and has a team-high 15 RBI, and senior designated hitter Jake Smith, batting .321.
Around the horn in county baseball:
• This week and next week are the final two weeks of the regular season. Teams qualify for the CIF-Southern Section playoffs if they are among the top two finishers in four-team leagues, among the top three finishers in five- and six-team leagues, and are among the top four finishers in seven- and eight-team leagues. All of a league’s playoff teams play in the same playoff division.
• There will be no at-large teams in the playoffs, except for in Division 6 which will have room for one at-large team. Divisions 1-5 will have more than the 32 automatic qualifiers needed to fill a 32-team bracket. It is difficult to know how many automatic qualifiers there will be in Division 7 as sometimes a smaller school will decide to not field a team or will delete their baseball program partway through a season.
• In Divisions 1-5, wild-card round games will be played to reduce the field to a 32-team bracket for the first round. The number of automatic qualifiers per division: Division 1, 37 teams; Division 2, 35 teams; Division 3, 39 teams; Division 4, 40 teams, Division 5, 44 teams.
• Playoff brackets will be released May 18 and will be available upon release at ocvarsity.com.
• It’s tight at the top of the Pacific Coast League, with Beckman in first place at 8-3 and Corona del Mar next at 7-4. Three teams are tied for third place, which earns the league’s final playoff berth, at 5-6 each – Northwood, Woodbridge and University.
• Orange Lutheran’s Cole Spear pitched a one-hit shutout in a win over Mater Dei last week.
• Fountain Valley’s J.T. Navarro last week went 5 for 7 with four runs scored. He plays second base, shortstop, pitches and bats lead-off.
• All three Fountain Valley-Los Alamitos games in the Sunset League were decided in the home team’s final at-bat. On March 27, Navarrao scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning in a 4-2 win by the Barons; last Wednesday, Dick Brown of Los Alamitos singled in Mark Stanford in the bottom of the seventh in a 9-8 win by the Griffins; and on Friday, Pierson Loska’s drive off of the center-field fence sent Navarro home in the bottom of the 10th in a 3-2 win for Fountain Valley.
• El Modena’s Brett Conine pitched a two-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts in a win over Esperanza last week.
• Huntington Beach center fielder Daniel Amaral last week was 6 for 8 with three doubles, four runs scored and four RBI in two wins over Newport Harbor.
• Capistrano Valley Christian’s A.J. Discenzo is 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched. He pitched a no-hitter in last year’s Division 6 championship game, a 5-0 win for the Eagles over Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth.
• Top games this week include: Laguna Beach vs. Calvary Chapel at Vanguard University, and Beckman at Corona del Mar, today; Orange Lutheran at Santa Margarita, San Clemente at Mission Viejo, Huntington Beach at Fountain Valley, Dana Hills at Capistrano Valley, El Dorado at El Modena, Century vs. Anaheim at Dee Fee Field at 7 p.m., and Tesoro at El Toro, Wednesday.
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