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GATEWAY LEAGUE BASEBALL – La Mirada’s Corns is perfect against Norwalk as Matadores set season highs in hits, runs

By Loren Kopff@LorenKopff on X

After a one-year absence, the La Mirada High and Norwalk High baseball teams reunited on the diamond with the results still the same, with some flare. Sophomore pitcher Kaden Corns needed only 51 pitches to throw a perfect game in a 16-0 shellacking that ended after four and a half innings.

It was the 20th straight win over the Lancers, who last defeated La Mirada on Mar. 30, 2012, a 5-4 decision. In their winning streak over Norwalk, the Matadores (5-3 overall, 2-1 in the Gateway League) have posted 12 shutouts and have allowed 21 runs in the other eight contests. It was the fourth appearance this season for Corns, but if La Mirada head coach Jimmy Zurn had his way, he would have seen more action by now.

“That was his first start of the year and to be honest with you, it was probably over-deserved,” said Zurn. “We were probably a little too long with him. He is going to be as special as a pitcher we’ve had here. That’s what he does. He has zero walks on the year for us and he’s incredible. He pitches with an attitude.”

On the first pitch of the game, he got senior shortstop Francisco Rodriguez to ground out before inducing senior left fielder Ruben Ramirez into a groundout as well, then struck out junior third baseman Hector Alvarado. The best chance for the Lancers (2-7, 0-3) to have a runner reach base came when senior first baseman Joseph Davis hit a line drive that bounced off the glove of junior third baseman Maverek Russell and into foul territory. But Russell regrouped and launched a long throw to sophomore first baseman Jacob Oropeza to barely get Davis.

After that, Corns would record four straight groundouts, a flyout, three straight strikeouts heading into the top of the fifth inning. There, he got Davis to fly out, struck out senior second baseman Juan Bustamante and got senior designated hitter Omar Hernandez to fly out. Corns reached a two-ball count twice and was ahead in the count nine times.

“He pitches to contact; he’s not overpowering,” said Zurn. “He’ll run it up to mid-80s on a great day, but he mixes three pitches, and we want contact. We want soft contact and that’s what we got.”

“Jimmy told me a little before that he’s a sophomore,” said Norwalk head coach William Wenrick. “So, he threw pretty well as a sophomore. Against us, he hit his spots and then later on in the game, he started going to his off speed a little bit and that seemed to be working.”

Offensively, La Mirada went to work early and kept its foot on the pedal throughout the game. Two pitches into the bottom of the first inning, senior left fielder Tyler Primanto singled to right field, moved to second on a groundout from junior right fielder Kevin Jeon and stole third. Senior pitcher Luis Salazar walked Russell and struck out junior center fielder Travis Friend. That was followed by a two-run double from freshman second baseman Bear Calvo and was the beginning of an onslaught.

When the inning was over, the Matadores sent 12 to the plate, scored eight runs and had five hits. Salazar walked two and hit a pair of batters, the first to load the bases for Primanto and two pitches later to bring in Oropeza. Salazar was one pitch away from getting out of the inning. But Calvo’s double came on a 1-1 pitch and after that, Salazar would throw 19 more pitches in the inning.

“That’s exactly what happened and that’s been happening the last few games,” said Wenrick. “We’re trying to jump out quick; we’re trying to hit the ball quick. We’re trying to get a 1-2-3, get back in the inning quick, and it’s not happening for us in the early innings. It’s just deflating.”

In the second inning, La Mirada sent eight more up to bat, collecting four more hits and scoring four more runs. Two of those runs were plated on sacrifice fly outs. Two more runs would come across in the third and fourth innings respectively.

“Every win is…we don’t ever take that for granted,” said Zurn. “Bill has done a great job and had a heck of a season last year. He had a great senior class that graduated and he’s in the [Mid-Cities] league and we don’t take them lightly. We came out and put pressure on them early and it started with our leadoff guys smoking the ball up the middle. From that point on, the rest was history. Once we got those first couple of runs, it was very impressive to watch.

“But that’s what we’re capable of,” he continued. “We’re capable of putting up a lot of runs. It’s just continuing to buy in to what we’re doing in practice. We have such large expectations here at La Mirada that when we have a slipup that’s abnormal…that’s fine. We want those expectations. We talk about pressure being a privilege.”

All nine starters either had a hit or scored with Friend, senior designated hitter Sebastian DeAvila and junior shortstop Aiden Aguayo all collecting a pair of hits while Calvo drove in four runs and Jeon knocked in three more.

This was the second straight game in which the Lancers had been shutout and the third time this season. In the other four losses, Norwalk scored a total of five runs while it has scored half a dozen runs in each of the two victories.

“We just have to keep working,” said Wenrick. “We’re doing a lot of stuff wrong at the plate; we’re not engaging. Just stuff that we need to go over and we work on it in practice and do in practice. We’re not bringing it to the field. We’re not hitting; we’re not hitting at all. We’re not scoring any runs because the guys, as a team, are not executing what we need to do to hit the ball.”

Norwalk visited Warren High on Mar. 14 and will go to Downey High on Tuesday in the front end of a home and home series with the Vikings. La Mirada hosted South Hills High on Mar. 14 and will entertain Nixa (MO) in a doubleheader on Saturday. Nixa went 35-7 last season, including a 12-game winning streak before losing to Liberty North High in the Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 6 semifinals. The Matadores will then visit Warren on Tuesday before hosting the Bears on Thursday.

“I have a lot of respect for Bill, and we’ve been going against each other for a long time,” said Wenrick. “Obviously, we both take great pride in our programs and pride in our district. So, it’s always a friendly district rivalry. But it was nice.”

“It’s good for us to see a program like [La Mirada] and to play a program like this,” said Wenrick. “I wish we could get a win against these guys. But it’s always good playing La Mirada. It’s good for the city of Norwalk and it’s good for our program.”