Sports

Heralds fall in close contest against league rival Valley Christian

Cooper Hughes (shown against Crean Lutheran) drove home the first of two Heralds' runs with a groundout during Whittier Christian's 3-2 loss to Valley Christian, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.
Cooper Hughes (shown against Crean Lutheran) drove home the first of two Heralds’ runs with a groundout during Whittier Christian’s 3-2 loss to Valley Christian, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.

by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

CERRITOS – A transfer from Whittier Christian before the start of the season, Tyler Radecki pitched a gem for Valley Christian leading to a win over his former team 3-2, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.

After a quick first inning, the Crusaders roughed up Mike Rafter, who started the second inning with a strike out, but then gave up a single past second baseman Daniel Howard.

The next hitter sent a long fly to Dakota Veltkamp which dropped when it caught the wind. Rafter was able to pitch out of the jam with the Heralds down one run.

The Crusaders continued to swing hot sticks in the third inning.

Valley Christian doubled the lead with three consecutive singles to start the third inning. A sacrifice fly scored the third run. Again Rafter was able to battle and escape the jam down 3-0.

The Heralds picked up Rafter in the fourth inning when Mike Rubio led off the inning with a single.

“Offensively it took us a time through the lineup to get our timing down,” said Brent Lavoie, Heralds head coach. “(The) second and third time I thought we squared up a bunch of balls, the process was really good, (we) hit a bunch of balls hard.”

Brian Rafter tried to sacrifice the runner over to second, but ended up pushing the bunt too far and Rubio was thrown out at second base. Mike Rafter reached on an error and Joseph Cobian was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Cooper Hughes grounded out but scored a run, Mike Rafter scored on a passed ball to narrow the gap to one run.

The Crusaders tried to extend their lead, but were shut down by Mike Rafter who pitched around a leadoff double.

“When the pressure moments arise, Rafter seems to get a little bit better,” Lavoie said. “There’s no fear of failure, bottom line the kid’s not afraid to fail and that’s what makes him so good, being able to battle in those type of situations.”

By this point in the night, the Heralds had seen Radecki’s best stuff, but were unable to push across another run.

“(Radecki) pitched a heck of a game, kept some guys off balance, and they played defense behind him,” Lavoie said.

In the seventh inning, junior varsity call up Brett Green had a long single off the right centerfield wall. Isaiah Carreon followed him with a single, but the Heralds were retired on a called strike three and a lineout to the first baseman.

The Heralds host Valley Christian on Friday. With a 4-5 record in the Olympic League, the Heralds control their own destiny for a playoff birth. The Heralds should be able to seal a playoff birth with a win in one of their next three games.

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