Laguna’s quest to make their first Southern Section CIF finals in 76 seasons of baseball fell short on Tuesday, June 3, as the Breakers dropped a 4-3 decision in nine innings at Torrance High School.
Breakers built a 3-0 lead through five and ½ innings with Preston Grand Pre’s two doubles scoring two of the runs. Breakers other score came off a Cal Cochran hit in the fifth.
Grand Pre pitched but ran into trouble in the sixth inning, but by the time he was relieved, the score was tied at 3. Both teams brought in their top pitchers which extended play until the Tartans pulled off a game winning hit with two outs in the ninth.
Laguna finished the season with a school record tying 27-3 mark.
Earlier, Breakers won their first quarterfinal game since 1957 with a 5-3 win over second-seed Sonora last Friday, May 30, at the Raider’s La Habra campus. Breakers got on the scoreboard first when Grant Wilhelm doubled in the fourth inning. Will McInerny walked, Garrett Burk singled to load the bases. Freshman infielder Dante Faicchio singled home Wilhelm followed by Jake Smith’s two-RBI hit and the Breakers were up 3-0. In the bottom of the inning, Laguna almost gave it all back with two errors allowing two Sonora runs to score.
Into the final inning, Laguna still held the slim 3-2 lead desperately needing some insurance. Smith led off with a single. Preston Grand Pre advanced the runner followed by Cal Cochran beating out the toss to first. The needed blast came from Richie Nunis, who drilled a triple deep into left field scoring two runs to the cheers of the Laguna fans who made the trip. The hit by Nunis broke the season hit-record set by Chris Paul in 2011 playing 30 games. Nunis hit number 51 in playing in 29 contests.
Breakers still had to retire the side in the bottom of the inning to secure the win and it wasn’t easy. Wilhelm gave up a walk and two hits to load the bases, gave up a sacrifice fly to score one run, a fly to center that held the runners, another hit to load the bases again, and finally a short fly to left fielder Cal Cochran to seal the victory.
Grant Wilhelm went the distance for Laguna giving up five hits, two walks, striking out three. His earned- run scoreless streak ended at 39 innings when Sonora scored in the last inning but the senior pitcher still earned his school-record thirteenth win on the season in thirteen starts. Raiders still lead the all-time series with Laguna 8-2-2.