Los Angeles Preps: Irvine Beckman

1. Corona del Mar's hopes of winning a second consecutive Southern Section volleyball championship ended in four games as the second-seeded Sea Kings were dethroned by top-seeded Oak Park, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-21, on Saturday in the Division 2 finals. More bad news came Sunday: CdM was not selected to play in the Southern California Regional playoffs, leaving Orange County in the rare position of not having a representative playing for a regional title.

2. James Kaprielian and Irvine Beckman were almost a casualty of the first round. Kaprielian is one of the Southland's outstanding pitchers, but the second-seeded Patriots needed a two-out, seventh-inning RBI single by Torin Goldstein—who drove in Jake Hazard—to provide a 1-0 victory over El Rancho. Kaprielian (10-2) pitched a two-hitter and struck out 12. In his last nine appearances—five of which were seven innings—Kaprielian has allowed three hits or fewer. In that span: 49 2/3 innings, 13 hits, 4 walks, 68 strikeouts.

3. So much for baseball rankings. The Sunset League laid the hurt on the Moore League as at-large Huntington Beach won at fourth-seeded Long Beach Poly in the opening round Friday, 2-1, as Shane Grace scattered five hits and Matt Urabe went three-for-three and drove in both runs. Another Sunset League school, Huntington Beach Marina, KO'd highly regarded (and seventh-seeded) Lakewood, 2-0, behind Austin Olivas' four-hitter. It was fairly indicative of Orange County's performance: in games that two O.C. teams weren't playing each other in the first round, the county went 5-2; the only setbacks were Marmonte League champ Agoura's home win over Brea Olinda, 6-1, and third-seeded Riverside North beating (another Sunset League team) Huntington Beach Edison, 11-2. In both cases, the O.C. teams had to win play-in games before going on the road.

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This year, Beckman wants to finish the job.

A year removed from losing one of the great Southern Section championship games of all time, top-seeded Irvine Beckman (11-2) finds itself in a familiar position: the Southern Division title game.

They won't be staring at a Josh Webb-type talent on the opposite sideline like they did in 2010, but there are still dangers out there in second-seeded Corona del Mar (11-2) when the two face each other Friday, 7 p.m., at Orange Coast College.

Four weeks ago they played for the Pacific Coast League title and Beckman opened up a 42-10 lead, only to see it evaporate as the Sea Kings scored 27 points in the fourth quarter. Beckman won its first league title, 42-37, but the section championship is anyone's to claim.

This meeting probably won't be anything like the last one, one in which Beckman changed up its offense and ran more, the CdM defense made uncharacteristic mistakes, and Brent Lawson (25 TDs, 10 int.) threw four interceptions -- two returned for touchdowns.

With no surprises up its sleeve, Beckman still must establish the run behind Jeff Kim (23 TDs, 136 yards/game) and Brian Brooks (4 TDs, 64 yards/game), which should make things easier on quarterback Cameron Biedgoly (15 TDs, 6 int.), who has improved each game. Brooks rushed for 150 yards in the last meeting, Kim for 129.

The things that benefited Beckman last time out are the mistakes that Corona del Mar must eliminate in the rematch. Lawson must turn in a typical performance instead of an error-prone one, and linebackers Frasier Anderson, Grant Garrett, David Moore and Aaron White must have a great game to help eliminate the big plays.

Corona del Mar has reached the semifinals three of the last four years (losing to Beckman, 24-3, in 2010), but this is the Sea Kings' first final since winning back-to-back championships in 1988 and '89.

With two teams capable of creating explosive moments, the team best able to prevent the big plays is likely the team celebrating at game's end. Beckman already knows the feeling of losing this game; for the 11 starters from last year's squad, they would like to experience the joy as well.

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