By Max Hilburn, Special to the Independent
The 2014 high school baseball season is underway. After last season’s push into the second round of the CIF playoffs, the team is looking to parlay that success into another record setting year. Although Laguna lost 2013’s Orange Coast league MVP Jackson Rees and pitcher of the year Kurt Rebone to graduation, this year’s squad returns four players boasting 2013 all-league honors – Steven Harrison, Preston GrandPre, Richie Nunis, and Grant Wilhelm. Garrett Burk makes it five seniors on the 2014 team.
The five returning seniors collectively put up an impressive stat line in 2013 – hitting for a .372 batting average, swatting seven home runs, and driving in 84 runs. Those five accounted for 41 percent of the hits, 70 percent of the home runs, and 42 percent of the runs batted in in 2013. The Breakers will need this kind of experience if they want to continue to build off of the success from last season, going 26-3 overall and 15-0 in league play. That sort of veteran leadership underpins their hope for another Orange Coast league title in 2014.
On Saturday, March 8, Laguna kept the foot on the pedal at home against Troy, pounding them for 28 runs in a shutout victory. Every player in the starting lineup had at least one hit, drove in at least one run, and scored at least twice. Preston GrandPre lead the way with four hits, while Harrison and junior Cole Coscino drove in three runs each. Pitchers Anthony Norelli and Zac Kovacic combined to blank Troy over seven innings, striking out eight.
The Breakers began the 2014 season with a victory at home on Thursday, March 6, in the annual Newport Elks tournament, coming away with a 6-2 victory over Orange. Richie Nunis drove in three runs and Garrett Burk added another, but the top performer was pitcher Grant Wilhelm. Wilhelm went the distance, allowing only a single earned run over seven innings while striking out an eye-popping 10 Orange batters.
The tournament continued this past week with games against Ocean View on Tuesday, March 11, Segerstrom on Wednesday, March 12, and Westminster on Friday, March 14. The Newport Elks tournament is the largest high school baseball tournament in California.