Sports

Heralds continue to work bats, beat Western in high-scoring tilt at home

Whittier Christian's Mike Rafter throws a pitch in the early innings of an 11-6 win over Western, Wednesday afternoon at Whittier Christian High.
Whittier Christian’s Mike Rafter throws a pitch in the early innings of an 11-6 win over Western, Wednesday afternoon at Whittier Christian High.

Story and photos by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Whittier Christian baseball team came out swinging and never trailed, responding to every point of adversity to earn an 11-6 victory over Western in the Newport Elks Tournament’s OC Pool, Wednesday afternoon at Whittier Christian High.

The Heralds’ Mike Rafter had a stellar performance despite moving from the third spot in the lineup, to the leadoff position. In addition to his offensive responsibilities, he also started and threw six innings, giving up four runs with eight strikeouts.

“[Mike] consistently pounded the zone, and that’s what it’s about, throwing a lot of strikes and he really had control of all his pitches,” said Brent Lavoie, Whittier Christian head coach.

The added pressure did not phase him at all, as he finished 5-for-5 at the plate with a triple.

“He’s just seeing the ball really well, his swing looks good,” Lavoie said.

The Heralds (4-0) used small ball to pile up runs. In the first inning, Rafter singled up the middle, Brian Rafter reached on an error and Cooper Hughes put down a perfect drag bunt to set the stage for the Heralds.

Whittier Christian's Logan Veloff slides into home plate, scoring a run in the fourth inning of the Heralds' 11-6 win over Western, Wednesday afternoon at home.
Whittier Christian’s Logan Veloff slides into home plate, scoring a run in the fourth inning of the Heralds’ 11-6 win over Western, Wednesday afternoon at home.

Logan Veloff cleared the bases with a crushing shot to center. He would advance to third on the throw and come home the following play on a grounder by Joseph Cobian, which put the Heralds up 4-0.

The Pioneers (3-1) capitalized on defensive lapses in the third inning.

After giving up back-to-back hits to the top of the order, freshman Isaiah Carreon committed an error which led to a second run.

“Next pitch mentality, flush it and let’s get on to the next ball, (because) you know it’s going to find you again,” Lavoie said about Carreon, “he’s pretty tough on himself, but I like how he bounced back, he did a good job today.”

Thankfully for the young second baseman, he was able to respond with a run on a squeeze play in the bottom half of the third inning. Carreon’s run was one of five the Heralds sent home in the third, as they batted around the lineup and roughed up the Pioneer pitchers.

Up 9-2 after five innings, the Pioneers rallied again, but the Heralds battled and picked up extra insurance adding two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make the score 11-4.

After a rough start to the seventh inning for Dakota Veltkamp, Joseph Cobian took the ball with two runners on but navigated his way out of the inning. Cobian left the two runner he inherited stranded in scoring position to close the book on an 11-6 victory for the Heralds.

“I have been struggling on the mound so it was good, a good confidence booster to be able to shut them down and get back to where I was,” Cobian said, “I’m pretty good at having a short memory when it comes to the bad times.”

With the offensive firepower the brought today, late game confidence could be all the Heralds need as they search for a go-to guy at the end of games.

“The pressure and everything wasn’t anything I haven’t dealt with before,” Cobian said.

Whittier Christian will close out the Newport Elks Tournament with a game against Crean Lutheran at Cypress Park, Friday at 2:30 p.m.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.