Los Angeles Preps: Laguna Beach

Loyola top seed in CIF Southern Section volleyball playoffs

May, 6, 2012
The CIF Southern Section boys volleyball playoffs begin on Tuesday and it looks like there might be a new champion in Division I.

Mater Dei won the Division I championship in a five-game match over Santa Margarita last year.

Servite won the Trinity League championship this year and enter the Division I playoffs as the No. 4 seed. Mater Dei was second in the Trinity League, followed by Santa Margarita in third.

Loyola has the top seed in the Division I playoffs and awaits the winner of the Simi Valley vs. San Marcos wild-card match.

Esperanza is the No. 2 seed and opens against St. Francis. Mira Costa is the No. 3 seed and plays Newbury Park in the first round.

Servite plays Long Beach Wilson in the first round.

Teams from the L.A. North Region dominate Division II. Oak Park is the top seed and has a bye in the first round. Valencia is the No. 4 seed and plays Knight from Lancaster in the first round.

Corona del Mar is the No. 2 seed and has a bye in the first round. Laguna Beach is the third seed and plays Malibu to open the playoffs.

Corona del Mar won the Division II championship in four games against Laguna Beach last year.

Here is a look at the first-round matches in the CIF Southern Section playoffs:

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Valencia boys' volleyball streak at 112

May, 2, 2012
The Valencia boys volleyball team won its 12th Foothill League championship in a row with a three-game sweep over Canyon. The Vikings were 10-0 in league play and extended their state-record league match winning streak to 112.

Austin Csiszar had 10 kills and 10 blocks for Valencia against Canyon. Mark Moss had eight kills for the Vikings (18-13).

Valencia is ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 poll. Oak Park is ranked No. 1 in Division 2. Corona Del Mar is No. 2 followed by Laguna Beach at No. 3.

Pondering public vs. private dilemma

March, 27, 2012

Should California separate public and private schools during the CIF basketball playoffs? That was one of the questions kicked around during the CIF state basketball finals in Sacramento over the weekend.

Two states, New York and Texas, split up private and public schools in the playoffs.

In California, there are 1,522 schools and 1,400 of them are public. Private schools won all 10 of the CIF state titles. Fifteen of the 20 teams in the CIF state finals were from private schools.

The J.W. North and Laguna Beach girls -- both public schools -- lost their championship games. The Sheldon boys from Sacramento, with a home-court crowd, played in the Division I championship game and were no match for Mater Dei, which won its record-setting ninth CIF state title.

Berkeley lost the Division I girls final for the second year in a row to Mater Dei. La Costa Canyon from Carlsbad lost to Archbishop Mitty from San Jose in the Division II boys final.

CIF Executive Director Marie Ishida told the Sacramento Bee that the playoffs have become a system of have and have nots.

The private schools have greater resources, better facilities, stable coaching staffs and supportive parents and boosters. Public schools do not always have the best equipment, coaches, support, gyms and training facilities.

Would California be better off with separate playoffs for private and public schools?

The J.W. North girls from Riverside made the biggest argument for keeping the system the way it is.

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The Southern Section boys' basketball playoffs begin for Orange County teams playing in the lower divisions on Wednesday. Here's a look at a few games that are worth watching. All games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Sonora (13-14) at Tustin (20-6), 3AAA: These teams opened the season against each other, and they were separated by only five points headed into the fourth quarter. Tustin won, 52-41, but it's interesting to note that Sonora shut out the Tillers in the third quarter. Could the Raiders channel that third-quarter defensive effort and stun the division? For what it's worth Sonora has the best-named player in the county, Jimmy Golden (16.1 ppg). The Raiders also lost eight games by six points or fewer -- and four by three or fewer, including 52-51 to an Anaheim Canyon team that a few weeks later beat Tustin, 68-40.

Brea Olinda (15-12) at Woodbridge (19-7), 3AAA: Coach Jeff Sink won all kinds of playoff games, including state championships, when he directed the Brea girls' program. This is his first season as coach of the boys, and it will be interesting to see what he can do here in an obvious underdog role. He was well-known for throwing all kinds of tricks at the opposition; can his magic work with boys as well? Woodbridge's three leading scorers are all sophomores, Michael Scarlett (11.7 ppg), Ali Lodin (10.0) and Jason Gregson (9.3).

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O.C.: Games of the week

December, 2, 2011
No. 6 Santa Margarita (10-2) at No. 2 Mission Viejo (10-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
This Pac-5 semifinal is as good as any championship game. Mission knocked Santa Margarita out of the playoffs last year, 31-28, and went on to the section finals where it lost to Servite. The second-seeded Diablos will try do it again riding the legs of Buzzy Yokoyama; though injured much of the season, Yokoyama (12 TDs, 112 yards/game) has shown in six games that he is a huge threat. He rarely goes down on the first hit, and he will be even more dangerous now that quarterback Alex Bridgford (23 TDs, 15 int., 208 yards/game) seems to be dialed in. That wasn't always the case this season. The pressure is on the Mission defense to control quarterback Johnny Stanton (22 TDs), who ran wild against Servite, who ran wild against Long Beach Poly, and who is fully capable of running wild against Mission. Stanton is averaging 98.7 yards rushing, and though his passing numbers aren't eye-popping (62.4 percent, 8 TDs, 8 int., 161 yards/game) he can still make the big play with talented receivers. Running back Ryan Wolpin (24 TDs, 115 yards/game) is no slouch either. The last two Servite quarterbacks to beat Mission in the playoffs, Cody Fajardo and Cody Pittman, were dual-threat QBs like Stanton. Both head coaches, Bob Johnson (265-91-1) for Mission and Harry Welch (246-54-2) for Santa Margarita, are among the best around.

No. 9 San Clemente (11-1) vs. No. 12 Tesoro (8-4) at Orange Coast College, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Tesoro beat top-seeded Servite last week, 24-20, so throw out everything the Titans have done this season and focus on what they bring to the table right now. Actually, one might look at their run over the past four weeks. They gave away a 14-7 loss to Mission Viejo, and the following week were flat in a 31-6 loss to San Clemente. Then they beat fourth-seeded Alemany, then Servite. Their emotional health going into this game against San Clemente vs. the last game with San Clemente will be night and day. Matt Adam (8 TDs, 6 int., 83 yards/game) must have a good outing so that Mission cannot gang up on the run game, which features Nate Tago (12 TDs, 103 yards/game) or Blake Rodgers -- who was the difference-maker when he sparked Tesoro's victory from a 20-3 deficit to Servite after replacing the injured Tago. The defense will have its hands full because San Clemente is among the most balanced teams in the playoffs, featuring a strong offensive line led by Kyle Murphy that protects runner Mike Elespuru (13 TDs, 118 yards/game) and Utah-bound quarterback Travis Wilson (21 TDs, 7 int., 158 yards/game). To a lot of people, San Clemente's second-round victory over St. John Bosco, 42-24, was an upset too; the Tritons hadn't won a playoff game since 2005, but three of the four semifinalists -- including Tesoro and San Clemente -- are from the South Coast League instead of the Trinity League. And, if you're looking for motivation, San Clemente might have the edge; this is the team that had their coach, Eric Patton, removed just weeks before the season for his alleged role in a kickback scheme with a now defunct athletic apparel company. Coached by Jon Hamro, the team has been playing for Patton as much as themselves.

El Toro (11-1) at No. 23 La Habra (9-3), Friday, 7 p.m.
This Southwest Division game actually has a Pac-5 kind of intrigue to it in Orange County. El Toro brings a no-huddle offense and a prolific passing attack into the game with junior Conner Manning (35 TDs, 5 int.), who is 88 yards from matching Matt Barkley's single-season county passing record (3,560 yards). La Habra has faced the no-huddle of Servite, and it's faced a terrific passing game in St. John Bosco, but the combination might catch the La Habra off guard early as it gets used to the pace. Then again, El Toro -- which has averaged 43.9 points and hasn't lost since a season-opening 23-21 setback to Huntington Beach -- hasn't seen a defense like La Habra's or a player like linebacker Aaron Porter. There's plenty at stake for La Habra; the Highlanders are trying to win a fifth consecutive title, but they won't get the chance if they don't contain Manning.

Foothill (8-4) at Tustin (9-3), Friday, 7 p.m.
These two rivals play each other annually and use Tustin High as a home field, so this game is huge. This is 50th meeting and at stake is a spot in the Southwest Division finals. Tustin has won the three previous playoff games between the schools (the last in 2000), as well as the last three games, including 27-14 in the season opener. It's the first time these teams have met as deep as the semifinals. Tustin's Tyler Siudzinski (19 TDs, 141 yards/game) rushed for 152 yards in a 35-7 victory over top-seeded Villa Park, and Foothill's Jack Gilchrist (12 TDs, 11 int., 112 yards/game) threw a 32-yard TD pass and scored on a three-yard run in the last 2 1/2 minutes to beat fourth-seeded Cypress, 34-24.

Beckman (10-2) at Estancia (10-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
When they played earlier this season, top-seeded Beckman scored a 12-10 victory but did so without their best offensive threat, Jeff Kim (22 TDs, 138 yards/game). Fourth-seeded Estancia -- which has since won seven in a row -- was down a few players too, although not junior running back Robert Murtha (19 TDs, 165 yards/game). Beckman beat Estancia in the first round last season, 56-22. In the semifinals for the first time in school history, will the pressure to reach the Southern Division finals be too much for Estancia? Beckman is trying to return to the finals after losing last year's title game to Garden Grove in an Instant Classic.

Corona del Mar (10-2) at Laguna Beach (10-2) Friday, 7 p.m.
Second-seeded Corona del Mar has appeared to be on a collision course with Beckman all season, but Laguna Beach is a dangerous opponent that defeated third-seeded Segerstrom, 51-40. Powered by Drake Martinez (27 TDs, 145 yards/game), the Breakers have averaged 47.8 points; their last loss was 63-47 to Costa Mesa. Behind quarterback Brent Lawson (25 TDs, 10 int.), CdM has scored at least 31 points in its last six games, and at least 42 points in its last four.
CIF-SS playoffs
Southern Division
A preview of the championship game may have occurred over the weekend when top-ranked Corona del Mar was beaten by second-ranked Beckman, 42-37, in the finale of the Pacific Coast League. Last year three of the semifinalists were from the PCL, and it wouldn't be a surprise if that happened again.

The seeds: 1. Beckman (8-2), 2. Corona del Mar (8-2), 3. Segerstrom (8-2), 4. Estancia (8-2).

Best first-round matchup: Woodbridge (5-5) vs. Rancho Alamitos (9-1) at Bolsa Grande HS -- Rancho had to beat the second-best team from its own Garden Grove League, Los Amigos (8-2), last week to win the title, and now have to open with the third-place team from the best league in the division. Woodbridge has a win over third-seeded Segerstrom and a one-point loss to second-seeded Corona del Mar. That's not normal for a third-place team with a .500 record.

Toughest road: Rancho Alamitos has it pretty tough for a league champion; if the Vaqueros get past Woodbridge, they likely play fourth-seeded Estancia, which had a 56-point margin of victory over Bolsa Grande, a team that Rancho defeated in league, 33-6, and lost by only two points to top-seeded Beckman.

Potential shocker: Laguna Beach (8-2) vs. Segerstrom (8-2) -- Assuming that both teams advance to this second round game, third-seeded Segerstrom -- which plays the defending champion, Garden Grove (4-6) in the first round -- has to stop a Breakers team led by Drake Martinez (134 yards/game, 23 TDs) that has scored 42 points or more eight times, and scored 55 or more five times. Segerstrom hasn't played a team that has a winning record.

Darkhorse: Woodbridge (5-5) -- The Warriors have performed well against two seeded opponents, defeating third-seeded Segerstrom, 21-14, and losing to second-seeded Corona del Mar, 31-30. It also hung with Beckman for a while before losing, 28-13. The Warriors, led by Derek Calderon (136 yards/game, 13 TDs), have seen the best the division has to offer and will be coming through the No. 4 quarter bracket.

Final analysis: There are some intriguing longshots such as Woodbridge, Laguna Beach, Rancho Alamitos and Los Amigos (8-2), but most of the time football is a reality sport, and the reality is that the PCL is the dominant league, and Beckman and Corona del Mar are best teams from that league.

Championship prediction: They will be hard-pressed to put on a better show than last year's final, a 31-30 victory by Garden Grove over Beckman. Still, Beckman's 42-37 win over Corona del Mar last week to determine the PCL champion makes for an attractive rematch with lots of potential for down-to-the-wire dramatics. Beckman's Jeff Kim (132 yards/game, 16 TDs) and CdM's Erik Fisher (111 yards/game, 10 TDs) are worthy adversaries. Still, CdM needed 27 points in the fourth quarter last week to make it close. Beckman 35, Corona del Mar 28.

Link to the Southern Division playoff bracket on CalPreps.com
1. The goals that Jim Hartigan instituted at JSerra for the program to take steps forward kept getting bigger and bigger. Win a game. Win all the nonleague games. Win a Trinity League game. And though the Lions -- outclassed in the league largely because of depth -- had scored a Trinity victory a couple of years ago against Santa Margarita, it paled compared to the victory this past weekend over Orange Lutheran. When JSerra beat Santa Margarita, 14-12, in the 2009 season, it beat a team that was struggling and finished 3-7 overall and failed to win a league game for the first time in its history. When it beat Lutheran by scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter for a 31-14 victory, it beat a team that was clearly acknowledged as one of the best in Orange County and was ranked in the ESPNLA Top 25. Quarterback Jake Hall and receiver Jonavaughn Williams are playmakers of the first order. Going into the final week of the season, JSerra (4-5, 1-3) is still alive for a playoff berth: If JSerra beats Mater Dei (3-6, 1-3) and Orange Lutheran (6-3, 1-3) beats St. John Bosco (6-3, 2-2), a coin flip would determine the third-place playoff entry from the league.

2. If there was a bigger win in Orange County than JSerra's over Orange Lutheran, it would probably have to be Huntington Beach's 58-28 Sunset League victory over Los Alamitos, a game in which the Oilers eliminated Los Al from playoff contention. Michael Chislock passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more as Huntington Beach (7-2, 3-1) showed that it might be a dangerous opponent in the postseason; comparably, Santa Margarita defeated Los Al, 38-27. Like JSerra's Trinity League upset, it was a second-half barrage that decided it; Los Al had scored the first 14 points, and trailed 24-16 just a minute into the third quarter before Huntington Beach scored six touchdowns (including an interception return by Zach Hadlock and fumble recovery by Ramon Vargas) and a field goal; the only TD allowed by the Oilers defense over the final 23 minutes was a 57-yard run by Cody Paul. It has to be a bitter disappointment for Los Alamitos, which hasn't won a playoff game since reaching the Southern Section finals in 2004. Los Al (5-4, 1-3) has lost four of its last five games and, on the season, is 1-4 against opponents with a winning record. At the earliest, it will be next season before coach John Barnes (293-89) collects his 300th victory.

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1. Now we see how deep top-ranked Servite is. The Friars suffered a big injury when their leading rusher, Charlie Etiaki, suffered a broken collarbone in a 24-16 victory over La Habra. Now, the likelihood is that Andrew Moore will have to step in, and Sean DeRosa will have to step up. Coincidentally, a year ago there were several injuries to the running back position that resulted in Malik Felton moving from slot receiver to tailback, and Felton became one of the Southern Section's most dynamic performers. Could history repeat?

2. Maybe Laguna Beach is for real. The Breakers (2-0) aren't likely to challenge the elite teams in Orange County, but they put up some more big numbers with a potent ground attack under first-year coach Mike Churchill. The Breakers faced another Southern Division team and scored a 73-40 victory over Ocean View, one week after beating Claremont Webb, 55-7. Drake Martinez rushed for 313 yards and scored five touchdowns, on runs of 48, 59, 65 and 60 yards, and an interception return of 39 yards; among his eight TDs this season, the shortest is 18 yards. The Breakers totaled 503 yards on the ground after rushing for 579 against Webb. In all, there were 13 touchdowns in the Ocean View game scored from 25 yards or more, and 10 from 39 yards or more. Next week, the Breakers play host to Bishop Montgomery.

3. There's something to be said for Mater Dei's two losses in two games, to Carson, 26-22, and Corona Centennial, 28-20. Both games went to the final seconds before the outcome was settled. It just goes to show that all records are not created equal. You learn something from being challenged, and these games are putting the Monarchs on the fast-track in preparation for the Trinity League gauntlet. They began last season 0-2, then walloped undefeated San Clemente and eventually reached the Pac-5 semifinals. Next week, Mater Dei plays undefeated San Clemente.

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LA North: Viewpoint repeats at CIF boys tennis champion

June, 3, 2011
The Viewpoint boys tennis team won the CIF Southern Section Division IV championship, 11-7, over Laguna Beach. Viewpoint is undefeated in six trips to CIF championship matches.

It was the second CIF Division IV championship in a row for Viewpoint and its sixth in the past eight years.

The Viewpoint doubles teams won five of their six sets to lead the top-seeded Patriots against second-seeded Laguna Beach at the Claremont Club.

In the Southern Section Division I boys tennis championship, University of Irvine beat Harvard-Westlake, 14-4, to win its second straight title.
Katherine Delaney, JSerra, Sr.

A week removed from breaking a 28-year-old Southern Section record in the girls' 1,600 meters, Delaney went even faster Friday at the Masters Meet by running the year's third-fastest time in the nation. Her 4:42.95 at Cerritos College was nearly four seconds faster than the 4:46.28 that she ran a week earlier.

Robbie McKnight, Laguna Beach, Sr.

The 6-foot-3 outside hitter had 26 kills to lead top-seeded Laguna Beach to a come-from-behind victory over second-seeded San Diego Francis Parker, 25-14, 17-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-6. The victory gave the Breakers their third consecutive Southern California Regional Championship for boys' Division III.
IRVINE -- The screams of Lance Stewart, aimed at his Laguna Beach players, could be heard over the din inside the gymnasium at Irvine Valley College. Stewart made an impassioned plea for this side to play with emotion.

And they did.

Down two games to one, top-seeded Laguna Beach stormed back from a five-point deficit in the fourth game to beat second-seeded San Diego Francis Parker, 25-14, 17-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-6.

It is the third consecutive Division III Southern California Regional Championship for Laguna Beach (23-11), which got 26 kills from Robbie McKnight. Parker finished 16-17.

It was the first time this season Laguna Beach had played a five-game match, but the Breakers never trailed in the decisive game.

“I like to see some emotion, I’m a football guy,” Stewart said. “In football, you can show your emotion physically. We weren’t making plays. I think they responded. We started blocking some balls and hitting some serves.“

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LA North and Orange County: Oaks Christian 6, Laguna Beach 3

May, 27, 2011
WESTLAKE VILLAGE -- When his teammates needed him most, Drew Hacker responded.

The senior captain for the Westlake Village Oaks Christian baseball team delivered a pair of timely hits and provided the Lions with a reliable presence on the diamond throughout Friday's 6-3 victory over visiting Laguna Beach in a Southern Section Division 4 quarterfinal showdown.

[+] EnlargeDrew Hacker
Eddie Raburn/For ESPNLA.comWhenever Oaks Christian needed him Friday, senior Drew Hacked seemed to deliver in a victory.
“When it comes down to leaders, no one is as important to our program than Drew. He went out there and got things done for us, no questions asked,” Oaks Christian coach Tim Penprase said.

Hacker did just that for the Lions (25-6) -- he got things done, on more than one occasion.

Trailing by a run in the bottom of the first inning, Trevor Gretzky came around to score from third base for Oaks Christian on a well-executed suicide squeeze by Hacker. The sequence, along with a run scored by Brandon Evans beforehand, gave the Lions a 2-1 lead heading into the second inning.

Hacker was just getting started too. With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, his pressure-packed single ended up scoring both Gretzky and Cole Taylor to extend the advantage to 4-1. Hacker scored as well, on a Nate Palace base hit, to give Oaks Christian a comfortable four-run lead.

“I'm out there to do a job, fill my role on this team like everyone else, that's all,'' Hacker said. “Stats don't mean much to me. I'm more concerned with winning. Everything else is a bonus.''

The Breakers (27-3) threatened in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Steven Harrison stepped into the batter's box. His grounder was fielded by Hacker, who combined with second baseman Blake McFadden and first baseman Gretzky to turn an inning-ending double play.

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Mater Dei, fresh off its five-game upset of second-seeded Santa Margarita in the Southern Section Division 1 boys' volleyball championship, was named the top-seeded team in the Southern California Regionals announced Sunday by the California Interscholastic Federation.

Mater was made the No. 1 team in Division 2, followed in order by Corona del Mar, Santa Margarita and San Diego Cathedral Catholic.

Laguna Beach, which was beaten in the Southern Section Division 2 finals by Corona del Mar, was tabbed the No. 1 seeded team in State Division 3. The top-seeded team in State Division 1 was Clovis Buchanan from the Central Section.

State Volleyball Championships
Southern California Regional
First Round
All games begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted

Division 1
San Gabriel (28-5) at No. 1 Clovis Buchanan (36-3)
La Costa Canyon (23-8) at No. 4 Granada Hills (20-2)
Burbank Burroughs (33-4) at No. 3 Thousand Oaks (20-6)
Santa Monica (22-11) at No. 2 Chula Vista Otay Ranch (30-7)

Division 2
Clovis North (34-7) at No. 1 Mater Dei (27-3)
Westlake (18-5) at No. 4 San Diego Cathedral Catholic (28-7)
L.A. Jordan (12-0) at No. 3 Santa Margarita (32-4)
San Diego Westview (33-4) at Corona del Mar (26-4)

Division 3
Vistamar (21-3) at No. 1 Laguna Beach (20-11)
Solana Beach Santa Fe Christian (14-8) at No. 4 Cerritos Valley Christian (29-4)
No 3 La Jolla The Bishop’s School at Elizabeth Learning Center (11-3)
Chadwick (23-5) at No. 2 San Diego Francis Parker (14-16)

Second Round
At higher seed

Regional Final
At Irvine Valley College

Division 3, 3 p.m.
Division 2, 5 p.m.
Division 1, 7 p.m.
CYPRESS -- To get an idea of how much of a breeze the Southern Section volleyball championships had been for Santa Margarita, it had not lost a single game through four playoff matches.

Saturday night, though, the second-seeded Eagles got the air choked out of them by Trinity League rival Mater Dei.

Continuing a run that is nothing short of spectacular, Mater Dei — the unheralded team at the beginning of the season that wasn't ranked by anybody — scored a stunning 22-25, 25-18, 17-25, 25-20, 18-16 victory over Santa Margarita.

Now it doesn't look as if anyone can hang with the Monarchs (28-3), who won their first section title in four tries.

Mater Dei
ESPNLA.comMater Dei players and fans celebrate the victory over Santa Margarita in the Division 1 final.
They beat top-seeded Mira Costa in the quarterfinals, and now have beaten the other team that was the class of Division 1. They also ended the regular season with a sweep of Santa Margarita after getting swept on two other occasions.

"This is straight up unbelievable," said Zach La Cavera, who had 27 kills and held the championship plaque while the throng that circled him chanted "MVP, MVP."

It was unbelievable. No team in the playoffs had finished closer than 25-21 in any game against Santa Margarita (32-3). Even after losing the first game, it seemed a stretch that the Eagles would lose two in a row after seizing Game 3.

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Inland Empire and OC: Laguna Beach 5, Indio 2

May, 19, 2011

LAGUNA BEACH — Geographically speaking, Indio and Laguna Beach couldn't be more different.

But the high school baseball teams from the respective cities displayed a remarkably similar brand of high-level competition Tuesday, going head to head in a Southern Section Division 4 first-round game at Laguna Beach High.

In the end, the Breakers delivered more timely hits and escaped with a 5-2 victory, their first home playoff win in the 73-year history of the program.

“We want to keep fighting,” said Laguna Beach catcher Erik Peruzzi, whose two-run double in the third gave his team the lead for good. “We want to get to the final round.”

After enduring a 125-mile bus ride from deep in the low desert to the sunny shores of Laguna Beach, the Rajahs scored first on a run-scoring double by Jose Lopez in the second inning.

Laguna Beach right-hander Chris Paul, who has signed with UC Santa Barbara, then settled in and prevented Indio from mounting another rally until the seventh.

The Breakers (22-6) gave Paul all the run support he'd need in the the third.

Larry Stewart reached on an error to lead off the inning and Jake Herbert followed with a bunt single. Keaton Jones then tied the score with a double to right-center field. Two outs later, Peruzzi doubled off the screen in left center, driving in Herbert and Jones for a 3-1 lead.

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