Having had the first part of spring break week free, the Laguna Beach High baseball team is back in action this weekend for a pair of Orange Coast League games against Saddleback.
The Breakers haven't played since April 9, when they took on and defeated Capistrano Valley Christian in nonleague play. They get back into playing mode Friday when they visit Saddleback for a 3:15 p.m. game. They also travel Saturday to face the Roadrunners, this time, for a 10 a.m. start in a contest that will wrap the three-game league series between the teams.
Laguna enters Friday's game 5-0 in league play and ranked sixth in CIF Southern Section Division 4.
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Laguna went into spring break having won 10 of its last 11 games dating to a March 14 loss at Westminster on the final day of the Newport Elks Tournament. Despite suffering the loss, the Breakers still won the Costa Mesa bracket championship of the tournament.
The Breakers are 14-2 overall, their two losses coming by a total of three runs.
"Pitching has been a bright spot, better than I thought it would be," Laguna Coach Mike Bair said of his team's success in its first 16 games of the season. "We knew we had a great pitcher in Grant [Wilhelm], but we've really had some younger guys step up and do really well on the mound. Zak Kovacic has thrown a lot of games, Will McInerny has been awesome on the mound, and Anthony Norelli has been pretty good coming out of the pen.
"Another bright spot, has been our hitting. I expected that, but guys are really coming through. Having both pitching and hitting in place are the reasons we are 14-2."
Laguna trailed visiting Capistrano Valley Christian, 3-2, but scored the tying run in the bottom of the fifth inning before producing four runs in the sixth of their April 9 game, and went on to a 7-3 victory. Grant Wilhelm threw a complete-game victory to keep his record perfect at 6-0. The senior gave up six hits and struck out three, and made key contributions to the Laguna offense with a double and two RBIs.
Senior Steven Harrison hit a solo home run, senior Richie Nunis went two for three with a double, and sophomore Will McInerny doubled and drove in two runs.
The win came against an Eagles team that is ranked fourth in CIF Southern Section Division 6.
Bair said Thursday he wasn't certain who would get the start Friday at Saddleback (1-15 overall, 0-5 league), nor start Saturday's game. Wilhelm and Zak Kovacic, whom Bair said has "pitched the bulk of the innings for us," are among several options.
"I'm hoping Cole Coscino gets some time, and also hope to get Will McInerny some innings," he said. "We don't want to underestimate Saddleback, and we'll meet [Thursday] and make the decisions as to who will start."
In the first league meeting between the teams March 21, Laguna ran away with a 23-2 victory over Saddleback.
Friday's game at Saddleback starts the second of three rounds of league play, and is the first of 10 games left on the Breakers' regular-season schedule.
They lead Calvary Chapel by one game in the league standings heading into the weekend.
"I think Calvary is a great team, and we have two games against them coming up," Bair said. "I wouldn't rule out Estancia or Godinez, either. Both are playing well and Godinez has been involved in some very tight games.
"Our focus is there. Our seniors are very focused and know what's a stake, such as a league championship, and a good seed for the upcoming [CIF] playoffs. This senior group of players loves to win, and hates to lose."
Next week, Laguna twice takes on Estancia starting with a 3:15 p.m. game Tuesday at Estancia. The Breakers play host to the Eagles April 25.
The Breakers are idle during spring break this week. They are back in action Tuesday at San Juan Hills for a 3:15 p.m. nonleague game.
Laguna resumes Orange Coast League play Thursday, visiting Godinez (3:15 p.m.).
CIF Weekly Rankings
Baseball: Laguna Beach (No. 6, Division 4).