Sports

Highlanders jump on Fullerton early in league opener

img_6557(rev_1)by Sarah Fenton
La Habra Journal

A strong first inning gave the La Habra High School baseball team the momentum needed to beat Fullerton, 6-2, in the teams’ Freeway League opener at Fullerton High School on Wednesday.

The Highlanders (3-3, 1-0) brought back their competitive drive, after losing to Mission Viejo last Friday, to jump on Fullerton early and maintain a four-run lead.

“I was very proud of them,” said John Sothern, La Habra head coach. “I jumped on them beforehand about competing. Last game, when we played Mission Viejo, I felt like we didn’t compete from the first pitch to the last pitch. All of practice this week was all competition based. I gave them a little reminder that we needed to compete and I felt like we did that today.”

La Habra came out strong at the beginning of the game, scoring four of their six runs in the top of the first inning.

With one out and a runner on second base, Garrett Molnar hit a ground ball to third base where an error allowed Chris Nuanes to round third and score.

The next batter for the Highlanders, Austin Saad, hit a fly ball to center field, allowing Molnar to score and advancing their lead to 2-0.

Later in the inning, Carlos Lomeli singled in Saad and, with the bases loaded, Cody Sciacca scored Michael Borg from third with a ground ball single.

The Indians (2-4, 0-1) came back at the bottom of the first inning and scored one run. Fullerton trailed La Habra, 4-1, going into the second inning.

At the top of the second inning the Highlanders added another run on an RBI single by Saad, scoring Molnar from third base.

La Habra led Fullerton, 5-1, going into the third inning.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Highlanders scored their last run of the game when Borg singled down the left-field line, allowing Andrew Gallegos to score.

“I thought we did a very good job of jumping on mistakes early in the count,” Sothern said “When we were on offense we put the ball in play hard and we capitalized on mistakes. Fullerton made mistakes defensively, but we did a great job of capitalizing on those and scoring runs on that kind of stuff.”

Fullerton came back in the bottom of the fourth inning and scored the final run of the game, trailing La Habra, 6-2.

La Habra’s starting pitcher, Robert Leffler, pitched until the end of the sixth inning when Ricky Garcia was put in to finish the game.

“We played great as a team,” said Leffler. “We jumped on Fullerton in the first inning, which was great and I felt pretty good. I could have done things better, but I’m happy that we got the win.”

La Habra’s next game will be against Sunny Hills on Friday at Sunny Hills High School.

“I think we need a couple more tweaks defensively,” Sothern said. “We made a couple of errors and that’s going to happen with young guys, but some of those plays have to be made. From an execution standpoint we were pretty good. I’d like to use the middle of the field a little bit better, but all in all I think it was pretty good.”

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