Islander Baseball Team Reaches Lions Club Classic Division Semi-Finals - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Sports

Islander Baseball Team Reaches Lions Club Classic Division Semi-Finals

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Posted: Monday, April 29, 2019 12:01 pm

If you follow prep sports at all, you realize high school baseball teams typically play in several tournaments each year, and when they do, they play games in bunches. Last week the Islander Baseball Team stepped up in class (horse racing term), competing in the Classic Division of the 68-year-old Lions Club Tournament, more than holding their own.

The Classic Division featured 16 teams, divided into four, four-team groups. The Islanders defeated La Jolla Country Day (LJCD) 7-1, Rockland from the Bay Area 2-1 and then Cleveland High School from Reseda by the score of 8-7. By winning their group, Coronado qualified for the Classic Division Semi-Finals, where they found fellow Eastern League member Clairemont. Coronado lost the closely contested Semi-Final game to the Chieftains 4-2. All three of Coronado’s victories were against Division I programs, which should assist the Islanders in their CIF Power Rankings in Division II. The Islanders are now 14-8-1 overall and 1-4 in the Eastern League.

Islander Head Coach Morgan Cummins said of the LJCD game to start the week’s play, “We had three-run rallies in the second and third innings which gave us a nice cushion. In the second inning, Dylan Miller hit a sharp single to the wall, which was misplayed, and he wound up at third on the two-base error. Bobby Zajonc had a double to score Miller, and Caden Sutherland walked to give us runners on first and second. Brady Roulier earned his first start of the season, and whiffed on two bunts attempts in a row, but then got a two-strike hit to score Zajonc. I liked Roulier’s mental toughness and the fact he made the most of his opportunity. Later Sutherland scored on a passed ball.”

Cummins continued, “The bottom of the third began with a base hit from Kyle Phin, a hit from Ryan Ward, and an RBI line drive to right center by Dylan Miller to score Phin. Zajonc then singled to right to score both Ward and Miller. Our other run came in the fourth when Heath Miller singled, and an errant pick-off throw advanced Miller to third. Phin hit a sacrifice fly to score Miller. Overall Zajonc was 2-3 with three RBIs and a run scored; Roulier was 2-3 with an RBI; and Dylan Miller was 2-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. On the mound Luke McCollough pitched 6.2 innings, scattered five hits, yielded one run and struck out 10. Luke set the tone for the week. When you play that many games (four in four days) you have to give the bullpen a rest. That set us up for the rest of the week by him almost pitching a complete game. Adam Sheehan came in to close out the game.”

All three of Coronado’s group games were played at home, and the Rockland was played Tuesday. Cummins said, “All of the runs were scored in the first two innings. The story of the game was Dylan Miller on the mound. He threw a complete game, allowed just three hits, no earned runs and had nine strikeouts. They run they got was unearned. For us, Heath Miller reached on an error, went to second on a passed ball and Tobey Brown had a really good two-strike line drive to center to score Heath and make the game 1-1. In the bottom of the second, Dylan Miller singled to center, Zajonc walked and with two out, Jared Pratt came up and hit a single to right center to score Dylan. Pratt, a senior, stepped up with a big at bat. Jared has been doing a lot of work for us behind the plate as our starting catcher and he sets the tone for us.”

A defensive gem in the sixth helped the Islanders preserve their lead according to Cummins. “Rockland had players on first and third with nobody out and they hit a grounder to Tobey Brown at third. He looked the runner back to the base and threw to second to get the force out. Ryan Ward took the throw at second and threw a strike to home to get the runner by four steps. They both showed a ton of composure, Tobey to look the runner back and then the clean throw home by Ryan.”

Wednesday Coronado played Cleveland High School, and this was one that almost got away. Coronado scored in every inning but the first and had an 8-3 lead heading into the seventh and final inning. The Cavaliers, yes, the Cleveland Cavaliers, sent eight hitters to the plate in the seventh inning and scored four runs on just two hits. Three Cavalier hitters were hit by a pitch in the inning and three wild pitches didn’t help the cause either. When the game ended on a called third strike, the Cavaliers had the tying runner on second with two outs.

The offense carried the day for the Islanders. Pratt went 2-3, with a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored; Heath Miller was 1-4 with a run scored; Brown was 1-4 with a double and an RBI, but was robbed in the fifth inning when he hit a line drive to left field that was trapped by the Cavalier outfielder and incorrectly called an out; Phin was 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored; Ward was 1-4 with two runs scored; Dylan Miller was 1-1 with a triple, two walks and one run scored; and Zajonc went 2-3 with an RBI.

Meanwhile on the mound, Justin Robertson drew the starting assignment and responded with a fine outing. Cummins said, “He stepped up for us on the mound and showed the kind of pitcher he can be. In five innings he gave up two hits, three earned runs and struck out two.”

The game came complete with some fine defensive plays. In the fifth Brown made a diving catch on a line drive for the third out of the inning, which saved a run. In the sixth inning Zajonc, who has developed into fine defensive first baseman, made a pick out of the dirt on a throw from shortstop to end the inning. And in the seventh, second baseman Canon Billings caught a well-hit grounder hit up the middle and threw the runner out at first base for the second out of the inning, which helped save the game.

Then it was on to Clairemont for the Classic Division Semi-Final game. Cummins explained, “We had our opportunities, we left 13 runners on base. We played better than the score indicated. In the third we had the bases loaded with nobody out and they got us to hit three straight grounders.” The Islanders, specifically the combination of Ward at short and Brown at third combined to pull the hidden ball trick on a Chieftain runner who strayed too far from the bag early in the game. Cummins said, “It was a super heads up play by them. Ward caught the relay throw from the outfield and handed the ball to Brown. Our bench didn’t know what happened.”

The first Islander run came in the first inning on a two-out single from Phin to score Heath Miller. The second run came on a walk to Ward, a walk to Dylan Miller and a single to center from Zajonc. Cummins said, “We had opportunities every single inning and we didn’t the big hit we needed. Nobody’s to blame but ourselves.”

Luke Meloche pitched five innings, yielded three earned runs and struck out three Chieftain hitters. Cummins added, “Meloche competed and put us in a good position. Heath Miller pitched the last two innings, was outstanding, and kept us in the game. He didn’t give up any hits, no runs and struck out two. It was his first pitching appearance of the season and he may pitch more coming down the stretch.”

The irony of facing Clairemont a third time this season in the Lions Club Tournament, with a fourth regular season game still to come, is if the CIF Division II Playoffs started today, Clairemont is the team the Islanders would play. This week Coronado returns to their Eastern League schedule with a road game Tuesday at Mira Mesa, followed by a home game against the Marauders Thursday, with both games scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Including the two games this week, only seven regular season games remain to be played. “I hope we get hot as the season ends,” Cummins said in conclusion. “We are blessed with the depth of our pitching and if we can score some runs, we can beat anybody.”

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