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By Zach Cavanagh
San Juan Hills Bounces Back in Ryan Lemmon Tournament
The final weeks of March were not kind to the San Juan Hills baseball program.
The Stallions suffered injuries to their No. 1 and No. 2 pitching arms in seniors Tanner Duke and Ryan Chadwick and opened the Sea View League with a 1-4 record. That difficult stretch continued into the first game of the Ryan Lemmon Tournament with a 10-0 loss to Woodbridge on Saturday, April 2.
San Juan Hills had lost five of six games and was outscored 35-5 in those contests. The Stallions had won seven of their previous nine games before that.
However, as the Ryan Lemmon Tournament continued at the Great Park in Irvine into spring break and the first full week of April, San Juan Hills found success in small ball on the way to a three-game winning streak.
The Stallions beat Bountiful of Utah, 8-4, on Monday, April 4, broke a late tie against Canyon, 7-5, on Tuesday, April 5, and closed out the tournament in big fashion with a decisive win over Irvine, 10-2, on Wednesday, April 6.
“(The injuries to Duke and Chadwick) took the wind out of our sails last week,” San Juan Hills coach Bret LeVier said, “so this tournament came at a perfect time for us to reset a little bit and see who’s going to fill those roles and step up. We brought a few guys up. We had a couple sophomores and a freshman playing. It’s been exciting to see them come in and have success this week.”
San Juan Hills (12-9, 1-4) excelled by embracing the bunt. The Stallions laid down three bunt singles against Bountiful and loaded the bases with bunt singles in a five-run inning against Canyon.
“We know that we’re going to have to play small ball as we go through each game,” LeVier said. “When we get the leadoff guy on, we’ve got to execute our bunts and move him along. We were successful yesterday, too, with three bunt base hits. A well-placed bunt is tough to defend at any level, especially high school baseball.”
San Juan Hills now looks to take this momentum gained over spring break back into Sea View League play.
The only victory the Stallions had in league play so far was a 2-1 win at San Clemente on March 25. San Juan Hills hosts the Tritons twice in a three-game set next week. The teams play at San Juan Hills on Monday, April 11, at San Clemente on Wednesday, April 13 and back at San Juan Hills on Friday, April 15.
JSerra baseball has responded to a disastrous start in Trinity League play. The Lions opened 1-6 in league with a sweep loss to Santa Margarita, but since then, JSerra has won two out of three from St. John Bosco and swept Servite. JSerra (11-9, 6-6, No. 9 in Division 1) now locks up once again with No. 3 Harvard-Westlake on Monday, April 11, before gearing up to co-host the prestigious Boras Classic April 19-22.
St. Margaret’s (10-2, 4-0) and Capistrano Valley Christian (11-6, 4-0) clash for the top of the San Joaquin League in the first of three meetings on Saturday, April 9, at San Juan Sports Park. The Eagles and Tartans play again on April 26 and April 28.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.