La Serna too much for Highlanders to overcome in playoffs | La Habra Journal

Posted on 17 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

lhhs_lahs-baseball__017-263x300-1320302After pounding out 10 hits for nine runs in the Wild Card round, the La Habra baseball team failed to replicate that performance in a 4-1 loss to La Serna in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, Friday afternoon at La Serna High.

La Serna’s Ryan Cordova led the way for the Lancers with a home run and a solo home run off of La Habra starter Sean Sparling. Cordova drove in three of La Serna’s four runs.

Offensively, the Highlanders struggled to string together hits, as pitchers Mike Zimmer and Gavin Callender kept La Habra off-balance.

“We had a little nervous energy coming into this one,” said John Sothern, La Habra coach. “Especially with the way we had been playing, we had been doing so many good things, we didn’t want it to end today.”

Zack Ferreira drove in La Habra’s lone run with a bases loaded double in the 5th inning. Frankie Zaluske, who represented the game-tying run at the time, was thrown out at home.

On Ferreira’s deep shot to center field, Zaluske hovered near second base thinking that the ball would be caught, but Danny Sanchez was right behind him when the ball dropped and Sothern felt he had to send Zaluske home to avoid slowing down the following two base runners.

“With one out, we want the guy at second to extend [in that situation] and we didn’t do it,” Sothern said. “It was just a baserunning mistake, plain and simple. It’s all in the details and if we don’t take care of them, we fail. We missed a big one there and we missed a run.”

Zimmer (8-0) retired eight of the first nine batters he faced, allowing a one-out single in the first inning to Vicente Perez before Andrew Gallegos grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The senior right-hander relied on a big-breaking curveball that had some Highlanders perplexed at the plate.

However, Zimmer didn’t record a strike out, instead relying on defense to get the job done.

In the third inning, La Serna (17-8-2) gave Zimmer a pair of runs on a two-out, two-RBI double down the left field line by Cordova.

But in the 5th inning, the Highlanders responded. Brett Mays and Jake Tourville singled and Sanchez drew a walk to load the bases before Ferreira’s double to bring home one run.

Callender came in and retired Perez on a groundout to end the threat.

Cordova pushed the lead back to two runs in the bottom half with a solo home run to deep left field on the first pitch of the at-bat from Sparling.

The Lancers’ final run crossed when Sparling (7-4) was called for a balk with a runner at third base.

“He struggled today and we knew it was bound to happen at some point,” Sothern said. “It’s just disappointing that it had to end this way though, we were playing mistake-free baseball for a while and the mistakes came back today.”

In the 6th inning, Callender worked around a leadoff double by Gallegos by striking out two of the next three batters he faced. The junior pitched around a two-out single in the 7th inning to close it out.

In Sothern’s first season at the helm, the Highlanders finished 15-14 after falling as far as 2-7 midway through the first round of league play.

Not only that, Sothern noticed a higher level of professionalism and team unity in the program, which led to an award for best sportsmanship in the league, an honor that La Habra split with Troy.

“For us to finally get them to play the way they needed to in order to succeed, we won a huge battle,” Sothern said. “We didn’t win the war, but we won a lot of battles.”

Habra Sports Journal