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Perfect Game Showdown: Good inning by La Mirada offset by bad one against Mater Dei

The La Mirada High baseball team finished in second place of the Perfect Game West Coast High School Showdown after going 2-2. The Matadores , who fell to Mater Dei High 5-4 last Saturday, also lost to Santa Margarita High on Mar. 9, then defeated Poudre High of Colorado 14-0 and Temecula Valley High 8-5 the next two days. PHOTO BY LOREN KOPFF.

 

March 16, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

 

IRVINE-When you have a chance to make a statement against one of the top teams in the CIF-Southern Section’s Division 2, you hope to keep your foot on the pedal. La Mirada High’s baseball team, situated in Division 1, led Mater Dei High, the second ranked team in Division 2 by three runs six batters into last Saturday afternoon’s game in the Perfect Game West Coast High School Showdown at Great Park in Irvine.

But the Monarchs countered with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and held on for a 5-4 victory despite a furious rally late in the game. La Mirada split four games in the four-day event, losing the opener to Santa Margarita High 3-0 and finished the six-team tournament in second place. La Mirada head coach Jimmy Zurn said his players got a lot of pressure situations, especially freshman pitcher Donald Murray coming in the fifth inning to pitch a pair of perfect innings against Mater Dei in a 5-4 game. Also facing the Monarchs were starting first baseman Maverek Russell and starting second baseman Aiden Aguayo, both of whom are freshmen. He said you can’t replicate high level situations in practice.

With one out in the first, senior center fielder Rudy Gonzales doubled down the right field line. That was followed by a run-scoring single from senior catcher Andrew Pyle. Two pitches later, junior designated hitter Pablo Hidalgo singled to the left field gap, followed by a sacrifice fly from Aguayo, plating Pyle, and a base hit from Russell. The next batter, junior right fielder Aidan Haller, singled to put runners at the corner. But on the next pitch, senior left fielder Nick Barron popped up to end the frame.

“That’s our style; we want to put pressure on the defense and as good as we were that inning, it’s also what was our failure today,” said Zurn. “We had an opportunity at 3-0; we get a leadoff runner on in the next inning [and] we don’t get the bunt down. We get the leadoff runner the inning after that [and] we don’t get the bunt down. That comes back to bite you when you’re trying to tack on runs against a good team.”

The Mats kept the pressure on in the next three innings but were thwarted by a pair of double plays and consecutive fielder choice plays which ended the third inning. Meanwhile, junior pitcher Cameron Trevino was cruising through the first three innings, allowing two hits, two more getting on by way of a fielder’s choice and a walk. He entered the fourth having thrown 45 pitches but began that inning yielding a single to Gavin Williams and walking Cade O’Hara. After throwing two straight balls to Derek Gonzales, Zurn replaced him with sophomore Eddie Garcia, who allowed a single to Gonzales, and a two-run double to Brody Connors to left field making it 3-3.

“At this point, the fourth game in four days, fresh arms are what you’re going with,” said Zurn. “Cam’s been really good for us out of the bullpen. He was struggling getting his secondary pitches over and when you become a one-pitch guy, they can sit on a fastball. [Sophomore] Eddie [Garcia] came in; I asked a lot out of Eddie. He only threw 40 pitches the other day.”

On that hit by Connors, Barron made a valiant effort for a diving catch, only to come up with a dislocated left shoulder. He would be replaced by senior Derek Cruz. The Monarchs would then get a groundout from John Elliot, a triple from Jimmy Deanda and single from Matt Hernandez to complete Mater Dei’s scoring.

In the next inning, a line drive from Hidalgo was snared by Hernandez as he was running towards right field. With one out in the sixth, Russell was walked and scored on a double from junior pinch hitter Eric Jeon. Jordan Manzur then walked junior third baseman Alejandro Diaz and after Jeon stole third, the stage was set for senior shortstop and leadoff hitter Noah Rodriguez to at least tie the game. But he sharply grounded out to second. In the last inning, La Mirada once again put the tying run on base. But a pair of strikeouts and a fielder’s choice ended that rally, and the game. One of those strikeouts came from Pyle, who came within feet of tying the game with a home run.

“Off the bat, where their second baseman was playing, I thought that ball was in the 3-4 hole,” said Zurn the attempt from Rodriguez. “He had a great at-bat, hit a ball well and the second baseman sat on it and made a good play. Then we come up and Rudy wore a pitch.

“Think about it,” he continued. “Pyle is about three feet to the right of giving us the lead if that ball clears the fence. That’s baseball.”

Eight players had one hit as the Mats fell to 7-3-1 after the game. Their other two losses were shutouts by Division 1 teams while in their seven wins, they have outscored their foes 51-9.

“Oh, it’s awesome,” said Zurn of the tournament. “Four games in four days is very, very difficult, especially on a pitching staff, keeping guys fresh [and] turning around. We had a really good win last night and then you turnaround and come back today. And obviously getting to play the caliber of teams…your Mater Dei’s, Santa Margarita’s, Temecula Valley’s, all D1 programs. It’s a gauntlet, but it’s good for the kids [and] 2-2, we’ll take that. It’s only going to prepare us for not only league, but what we’re going to see in the playoffs.”

La Mirada opened Suburban League play this past Tuesday at improving Norwalk High and came away with a 7-0 win. After hosting the Lancers today, the Mats will face Moorpark High on Saturday, Reno High on Monday, Lakeridge High out of Oregon on Tuesday and Damien High on Wednesday as part of the Anaheim Lions Tournament.

“I went and saw them today [against Mary Star of the Sea] before I came here,’ said Zurn of Norwalk. “Like I’ve said from day one, [Norwalk head coach] Bill [Wenrick] always does a great job. You don’t sleep in anyone. The minute you do that, the game will bite you. I’ve been in this league for a very, very long time and if there’s one thing that we will never do is underestimate an opponent. That’s why we’ve had success.”

 

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