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10th ANNIVERSARY BORAS BASEBALL CLASSIC Missed opportunities plague La Mirada against one of San Diego’s powerhouse teams

April 27, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

SANTA ANA-When talking about his team’s 3-2 loss to St. Augustine High in the 10th anniversary of the prestigious Boras Baseball Classic last Thursday afternoon, La Mirada High head coach Jimmy Zurn started with the missed opportunities. Not only did the Matadores strand 11 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the top of the second inning, but a couple of his better hitters were caught looking at a third strike, each with two runners on base.

The loss spoiled a stellar pitching performance from senior Ryan Coppock, who worked five innings, surrendered five hits and struck out five. But it was an untimely error that led to the winning runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“I thought Coppock pitched really, really well, and we had one inning in which our defense let us down,” said Zurn. “We really haven’t had that type of inning all year.”

Early on, Coppock and his counterpart, Chaz McRoberts were pitching gems with the former having a perfect first and third innings while the latter had yielded four singles during his four innings of work, striking out three but also walking three as part of his 61 pitches. La Mirada struck first in the second inning when freshman designated hitter Paul Dominguez and junior left fielder Aidan Haller singled with one out and McRoberts walked junior first baseman Pablo Hidalgo to load the bases. After senior shortstop Noah Rodriguez struck out looking, McRoberts walked freshman right fielder Maverek Russell to bring home Dominguez.

The Saints, situated in Division 1 of the CIF-San Diego Section and ranked 29th in the state, tied the game in their half of the inning when Frankie Giacalone smashed a home run over the left field wall on a full count.

“Obviously playing in this tournament, it tells you how deep we both are that you’re on day three and you’re throwing out those types of arms,” said Zurn of the pitching early in the game. “Their kid was good. I thought he was a little bit wild at the beginning, which gave us some opportunities. We hit a couple of balls on the screws that just found gloves, which would have been runs.”

Zurn was specifically talking about Russell’s line drive to center with a runner on second that was caught to end the top of the fourth, and senior center fielder Rudy Gonzales’ sharp line out to second with a runner at second in the next inning that resulted in the second out. Had those two not been caught, La Mirada would have been up at least 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth.

Luke Rhee led off the bottom of the fifth with an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Coppock struck out Shane Miranda, looking, and leadoff hitter Franklin Carney, M.J. Sweeney singled before Domenic Carini reached on an error, which allowed Rhee and Sweeney to touch home plate.

The Matadores crept back to within a run in the sixth when Grayson Boles walked Dominguez. Senior pinch runner Noah Villanueva then stole second and scored with two outs on a base hit from Rodriguez. In the last inning, senior catcher Andrew Pyle struck out but advanced to first when the ball got past Miranda. Junior third baseman Eric Jeon then went the opposite direction with a single, but senior center fielder Rudy Gonzales would ground into a double play. After a walk to freshman second baseman Aiden Aguayo put runners at the corners, the seventh groundout ended the contest.

“It had the feel like today not many breaks went our way today,” said Zurn.

La Mirada, unranked in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1, began the tournament on Apr. 19 by giving Sierra Canyon High its first loss of the season in a 7-0 decision. Jeon pitched a two-hitter through six innings with five strikeouts and two walks. The Trailblazers, ranked first in Division 2, had not allowed more than three runs in any of its first 22 games before facing La Mirada. The next day, the Matadores were doubled up by the top-ranked team in Division 1, Orange Lutheran High, in a 4-2 affair but bounced back last Friday by blanking Point Loma High 2-0 as freshman pitcher Donald Murray scattered five hits in five innings before giving way to junior Alejandro Diaz, who notched his second save.

“Not many people outside of La Mirada expected us to win [the Sierra Canyon] game, and I’ll say that on record,” said Zurn. “We held [Orange Lutheran] to four hits yesterday, and that’s as good of a lineup as you’re going to find in high school baseball. My starter had four walks in the third inning, and they ended up getting four [runs] on a couple of hits.

“Then my freshman [Dominguez] came in and struck out nine,” he continued. “We fight and cut it to two and had the tying run at the plate. That’s something you can take away with such a young team. Today I just felt like we were a little bit…didn’t have the same energy, which is tough; it’s hard to do.”

After La Mirada (19-6-1 overall) lost to West Ranch High 11-0 on Feb. 19 in the second game of the season, the Matadores have allowed 11 runs in their other five losses combined. The team, which has now won all seven of its Suburban League contests by a combined score of 63-6, crushed last place Firebaugh High 11-0 this past Tuesday and after facing the Falcons again on Apr. 28, will travel to Gahr High today to wrap up the regular season. The playoff brackets will be released on Monday morning with first round action slated for Thursday or May 6.

“It will be good to have a practice Monday just to kind of go over some stuff,” said Zurn. “Not taking anything away from Firebaugh, but we’ve got to get some innings for some guys that could be needed in the playoffs; some at-bats. And then the Gahr game, [head coach] Gerardo [Perez] and I have known each other a long time. We scheduled that game mainly so we play a high caliber playoff team going into the playoffs.”

“We hit a lot of balls squared up,” said Zurn. “It’s just that today was not our day from that regard. That’s why I love the challenge…this is the only time in your season where you’re playing four straight days against four incredible teams.”