Laguna (22-8) surprised fourth-ranked Newbury Park with a 3-1 win Tuesday, May 23, before an overflow standing room only crowd at Skipper Carrillo Field.
The victory sends the Breakers to the Division 2 quarterfinal Friday, May 26, which will also be played at home. Breakers will face either Etiwanda (22-3), ranked 10th in the state by Cal Hi Sports, or Village Christian (21-4). The Eagles and Tartans were to play Wednesday, May 24.
The victory was Laguna’s seventh straight playoff win over two seasons and was due to strong pitching performances by Blake Burzell for four innings and three innings of relief by Ashton Goddard, who returned to action after missing almost the entire season due to injury. Goddard was the key pitcher in last year’s CIF run.
The game’s highlight on defense were back-to-back catches in the sixth inning. The first came on an amazing diving catch in right field by Kolton Freeman for the second out, which was followed by an even more incredible over the shoulder catch in deep center left by Will Bonn to retire the side.
Dante Faicchio scored Laguna’s initial run of the game in the first off an RBI single by Freeman. Newbury Park tied the game in the third, but Breakers added another run in the bottom of that inning as Faicchio scored again off a double by Dustin Agnus. Breakers added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Faichio drove in Connor Coscino on a deep single to right field.
The final outs offered some drama as Goddard struck out the first batter in the seventh followed by a fly to Cutter Clawson for out number two. Goddard walked the next batter, then hit a batter to give Newbury the potential go head run at the plate, but Newbury’s batter struck out to end their run.
Jake Miller, Newbury’s pitcher took the loss to end the season at 7-1.
Heart-Stopping Win Opens 2017 Playoff Run
Breakers surprised the playoff world in holding off favored Sea View League champion Trabuco Hills (17-10-1) in a tense 8-7 win at the Mustang field on Friday, May 19.
Laguna jumped out first with five singles in the top of the first to take an early 2-0 lead. Breakers added three more in the third but a Laguna error helped Trabuco get on the scoreboard with two runs.
Breakers added one in the fourth, two more in the sixth to take a 8-4 lead. The last runs coming as Dylan Smith scored off a Dante Faicchio single and Dante scored a new Laguna season record 47th time when Dustin Angus hit his Laguna season record seventh triple to score him.
Jack Loechner started for Laguna going five full innings before exiting after giving up four runs (two earned) and walking the initial batter in the sixth. Reliever Blake Burzell got off to a rough start giving up a home run before escaping the inning. The tense last three outs in the bottom of the seventh could have easily seen the game slipped out of the Breakers grasp. Burzell walked the initial batter but a great throw by catcher Aiden Booth took the baserunner out attempting a steal. Burzell struck out the second batter for out two and the third batter grounded to short to end the contest. Breakers are now overall 16-11 in 13 playoff runs including nine straight years on making the playoffs.
There are no “cupcake” matchups in the playoffs this season. Breakers were one of 35 teams (and the smallest public high school) qualifying for the new power Division Two of seven playoff divisions. Unlike the system used from 1950-95, and 2006-16 which was based on league equity, the new format is based strictly by school on a computerized weighted formula on wins, strength of schedule and playoff success over a two season period. Placement will be adjusted each year. The Southern Section used enrollment for most sport division placements from 1996 thru 2006. Only cross country and track are still in enrollment based playoffs.
Some very good baseball teams did not make it out of the D2 round of 32 with Corona del Mar (PCL champs) among those exiting early. Breakers hosted # 4 Newbury Park (21-9) this past Tuesday with the Panthers being another top league champ (Marmonte – Oaks Christian, Westlake –Thousand Oaks, Agoura – Calabasas). The winner will face either Etiwanda ( 23-3 ) or Village Christian (21-5). Trinity League champion St John Bosco is the top seed.
The reboot with Coach Jeff Sears is well underway as the veteran coach continues the traditions he started when coaching here for four seasons from 2008-2011. 21 wins this season ranks fourth best in school history. Sears is now 92-54 in five seasons at Laguna.
Statistical Leaders after 29 Games:
Batting Average: .462 Dante Faicchio
Hits: 49 – Dante Faicchio, 46 – Dustin Angus
Doubles: 21 – Dante Faicchio
Triples: 7 – Dustin Angus
Home Runs 3 – Grady Morgan
Runs: 47 – Dante Faicchio
Stolen Bases: 12 – Dustin Angus
RBI – 38 – Dustin Angus
Appearances: 14 – Lance Stewart, 13 – Blake Burzell, 12 – Jack Loechner
Pitching Wins: 8 – Jack Loechner, 6 – Blake Burzell
Innings Pitched: 59.2 –Jack Loechner, 50.1 Blake Burzell
ERA: 2.23 – Jack Loechner, 2.67 – Lance Stewart, 3.20 – Blake Burzell
Strikeouts: 58 – Blake Burzell, 50 –Jack Loechner
Team Batting Ave is .369 (ranks 3rd all-time)
Team ERA is 3.04
Kasey Karkoska finished 14th in the state 100 yard backstroke with a time of 56.19 at the third annual state CIF Swim Championships at Clovis West High School on May 20. The junior became the first Laguna swimmer to compete at the event.
Track & Field
No Laguna athlete made it to the D3 Section Championship meet last Saturday at Cerritos College.
Boys Volleyball (20-5)
Laguna’s squad did not advance to the State Regionals this season due to a new selection rule push through by the Southern Section that no longer takes schools based on enrollment. Breakers would have qualified for the D3 championships based on the old guidelines. Laguna was the only team to take any sets off eventual D1 champion Corona Del Mar who swept to the Section title with a sweep of Oak Park and Loyola after being taken to the brink of elimination by the Breakers.