Saints | La Habra Journal

Posted on 14 March 2014 by La Habra Journal


Whittier Christian’s Mike Rafter scores in the first inning to give the Heralds an early lead. Whittier Christian lost to Crean Lutheran 3-2, Friday afternoon at Cypress Park.

Story and photos by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

IRVINE – Poor execution foiled the Whittier Christian baseball team’s hopes of a championship win in the Newport Elks Tournament’s OC Pool as the Heralds fell 3-2 to the Crean Lutheran Saints, Friday afternoon at Cypress Park.

The Heralds had plenty of opportunities to change their fate, but failed to get timely hits.

“The game of execution will directly have impact on the outcome,” said Brent Lavoie, Whittier Christian head coach. “They executed, we had opportunities to do so and didn’t, there’s your ball game.”

The Heralds’ bats stayed hot picking up two runs in the first, including one from Mike Rafter who led off the game with a double.

After going 5-for-5 on Wednesday, Rafter’s bat stayed hot with two doubles against Crean Lutheran.

However, the Saints (5-0) regained their composure, responding in their half of the first inning and they shut the Heralds down the rest of the afternoon.

The Heralds’Trevor McGee started the second inning by beating out an infield single and Whittier Christian (4-1) loaded the bases with a walk and a hit by pitch, but failed to capitalize stranding all three runners.

“I thought early in the game, we saw pitches well, we had some good at bats,” Lavoie said.


Jake Rivera throws a pitch during the fourth inning of Friday afternoon’s tournament loss to Crean Lutheran, 3-2 at Cypress Park in Irvine.

Leading 2-1 in the bottom of the third inning, Jake Rivera ran into some trouble on the mound. After the Saints loaded the bases, Rivera battled to get out of the jam with the Heralds down just one run.

After surrendering the lead, McGee continued to swing a hot bat when he ripped a double to deep left center field. McGee advanced to third on a balk.

Threatening with no outs, Dakota Veltkamp failed to score the runner on a groundout. Lavoie played small ball calling for a squeeze bunt with an out, but Daniel Howard, a junior varsity call-up, missed the bunt and McGee was tagged out in a rundown.

“Sometimes we’ll roll the dice, sometimes you’re going to get burned,” Lavoie said.

Crean Lutheran rode the momentum with a strikeout to escape the jam.

Chris Thompson came in to relieve Rivera, in the fifth inning and retired the Saints in order.

Fired up by their defense, the Heralds continued attacking. With one out, Cooper Hughes singled up the middle, and Joseph Cobian drew a walk, but the following two batters struck out, leaving runners on the corners.


Whittier Christian’s Cooper Hughes singles in the sixth inning of Whittier Christian’s 3-2 loss to Crean Lutheran, Friday afternoon at Cypress Park.

“[You have to] Tip your cap to them,” Lavoie said. “They saw that we were hitting early, started mixing speeds and locations and their pitcher battled.”

Mike Rafter ripped his second double with one out in the top of the seventh inning. After Brian Rafter fouled out to first, Mike Rafter took off for third, sliding in safely as the ball bounced away from the third baseman.

Unfazed by the pressure, Crean Lutheran closed the door on the Heralds with a strikeout to win the tournament championship 3-2.

“[Execution] came back and bit us,” Lavoie said.

The Heralds will head to York Field in Whittier for a doubleheader against Whittier High, next Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Habra Sports Journal