Orange Lutheran baseball loses to Harvard-Westlake in Division 1 semifinals as timely hits disappear – Orange County Register

ORANGE – Getting timely hits helped Orange Lutheran’s baseball team win 25 games and the Trinity League championship, win a big early-season tournament and get to the National High School Invitational championship game.

Those timely hits did not come often enough Tuesday.

The Lancers left seven runners in scoring position in their 4-2 loss to Harvard-Westlake in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs at Hart Park.

Harvard-Westlake (27-4-1) will play Corona (29-3) in the championship game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Lake Elsinore Diamond.

Orange Lutheran (25-7) couldn’t cash in on its opportunities.

After giving up three runs in the top of the first inning the Lancers left runners on second base and third base in the first inning, had a runner on second base with one out in the second inning but did not score, left a runner on third in the third inning, left the bases loaded in the fifth inning and left a runner on second in the sixth.

While frustrated by that, Orange Lutheran coach Eric Borba liked the way the Lancers kept working in the game that took 3 hours and 12 minutes to complete.

“There were some times when that game could have gotten out of control on us,” Borba sasid. “But we showed a lot of grit and fight to keep us in it.”

It was the fourth game this season between Orange Lutheran and Harvard-Westlake, which are ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, in the Prep Baseball California state Top 25 that has Corona at No. 1.

Orange Lutheran beat the Wolverines 4-3 in the Prep Baseball California Spring Invitational semifinals in February, lost to Harvard-Westlake 2-1 in April and beat Harvard-Westlake 3-2 in eight innings in the National High School Invitational semifinals in North Carolina in April.

Adding in Tuesday’s 4-2 result, Harvard-Westlake scored 11 runs to Orange Lutheran’s 10 over their four games.

Harvard-Westlake coach Jared Halpert has enjoyed the competition against Orange Lutheran.

“That’s one of the best programs in the country,” Halpert said of Orange Lutheran. “I have a ton of respect for what Eric and that coaching staff does.”

Harvard-Westlake took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Wolverines senior center fielder James Tronstein, a Stanford signee, singled and stole second base. Washington-committed junior Cade Goldstein walked as did junior Jack Laffitte to load the bases. Duncan Marsten then smoked a one-hopper that skipped past Orange Lutheran second baseman Justin Lopez for a hit that drove in Tronstein and Goldstein. Laffitte scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 3-0.

Orange Lutheran got a run in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double by junior first baseman Josiah Hartshort, his team-leading 28th RBI of the season. The double scored LSU signee Derek Curiel.

Wolverines senior Bryce Rainer, a slick-fielding, Texas-signed shortstop who went into the game with a .522 batting average, walked with the bases loaded for a 4-1 lead.

The Lancers scored their other run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Wyatt Hanoian singled and scored when the left-handed hitting Curiel sent a line-drive double just inside the left-field line to make it 4-2.

Orange Lutheran went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh.

A late-game highlight for Orange Lutheran was the relief pitching of sophomore right-hander Tristen Ramos. He entered the game in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Ramos struck out the next three batters to end the inning and struck out the three batters he faced in the seventh inning.

Tuesday’s loss was a rare one for Orange Lutheran at Hart Park, the Lancers home field. They were 10-1 there going into game.

Orange Lutheran became eligible to play in the CIF Southern California Regional by reaching the semifinals. But the Lancers might not accept the invitation for the regional playoffs that begin May 28.

“That’s still something we’re going to discuss,” Borba said after Tuesday’s game. “As coaches, if the players want to go to the regionals then we’re going to be there with them all the way. We’re going to rely on the players to make that decision.”

JSerra won the CIF-SS Division 1 championship last season and then declined to play in the CIF SoCal Regional.

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