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CdM Moves Into Second-Place Tie in PCL

By David Carrillo Peñaloza, 04/28/16, 10:15AM PDT


During the summer, Evan Larsen and Jake Larson are teammates on a travel ball team. In the spring, their relationship is different.

It's Larsen vs. Larson during the high school baseball season. The two senior right-handed pitchers are rivals, Larsen throws for Corona del Mar and Larson for Woodbridge.

They met for the second time this year and with a lot more at stake on Tuesday.

Larsen outperformed Larson in the first game last month, throwing a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and no walks in a Pacific Coast League opener. Larson was on the verge of outdueling Larsen in the rematch.

Going into the bottom of the sixth inning at CdM, Larson had only allowed three hits and one run, while striking out seven. The Warriors led, 3-1, and then Larson ran into trouble, walking the leadoff batter and giving up two singles to load the bases.

With two outs, Larson jumped ahead of Robby Hurst. The outside fastball Hurst expected to see on a 1-2 count came and he went the other way with it, clearing the bases with a double in right-center field to give CdM its first lead.

The Sea Kings added a run in the sixth on Chazz Martinez's pinch-hit double, and Larsen finished off the Warriors again. The future Cal State Fullerton pitcher tossed a complete game, striking out 11 in a 5-3 come-from-behind win.

Larsen punctuated his effort by striking out the last batter to strand runners on first and second. He had to do strikeout No. 11 over because of a little controversy on whether the batter went around or not.

What's not up for debate is where CdM, ranked No. 9 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 poll, sits in league.

Behind Hurst's clutch hit and Larsen's strong 104-pitch effort, 71 for strikes, CdM moved into a tie for second place with Woodbridge at 7-3. Both teams trail defending league champion Beckman by one game.

"It makes all the difference of being … right in the thick of it," CdM Coach John Emme said of the result. "It's a huge win and Friday's game is going to be equally as big."

The Sea Kings look to sweep the No. 3-ranked Warriors when they wrap up their three-game series at Windrow Park on Friday at 3:30 p.m. Five contests in league remain, and Larsen said they are all must-win situations if CdM plans to bring a league title home for the first time in 10 years.

Larsen (7-1) is doing his part, going the distance for the seventh time this year. He was charged with two runs and the Warriors collected five hits off him, three of those went for doubles. The bottom of the lineup produced the extra-base hits.

After not walking a batter the last time he faced the Warriors, Larsen was in danger of putting the first Warrior he saw.

He barely missed the strike zone on his first three pitches to Aharon Modlin. With a 3-0 count, Larsen threw a strike. The next four offerings Modlin fouled off. Nine pitches are how many it took Larsen to get Modlin, who grounded out to third base. Larsen needed only seven pitches to mow down Zak Baayoun and Jackson Lyon, retiring the side in order.

Larson (6-3) recorded a 1-2-3 first inning as well, striking out Kevin McCarthy and Preston Hartsell looking, before getting JT Schwartz swinging with an inside pitch. The left-handed hitters took the outside pitch, which worked for Larson as the umpire kept calling it for a strike.

Every pitch by Larsen in the second was a strike, except for one. Larsen struck out two swinging, after the leadoff batter flew out to right field. Larsen threw 10 pitches to retire the side in order.

The 1-2-3 innings continued for Larson, as did the high number of pitches. Larson, who threw 21 pitches in the first inning, tossed 17 in the second. Five of the first six batters worked the count full against Larson, all of them in the second inning, and Larson struck out two of them on fastballs.

Then the Warriors got to Larsen right away in the third inning. Left-handed hitting Shoma Yoshida, who went two for three, doubled over McCarthy's head in right field. On his first pitch the No. 8 hitter, Chase Bradley, who went two for three, Larsen gave up another double, giving up his first run to the Warriors this year.

The next Woodbridge run came with the help of a passed ball and a wild pitch. The curveball in the dirt allowed Bradley to easily score from third to make it 2-0 Warriors.

Through three innings, after Larson retired the side in order for the third time, CdM disrupted Larson's rhythm. McCarthy led off the fourth with a single past the diving shortstop, and Hartsell followed that up by going the other way, singling to left. A wild pitch by Larson moved the runners to second and third, and Brenden Hueston's groundout to shortstop brought in McCarthy, cutting the deficit to 2-1.

With a runner on third and two outs, Larson helped himself with some defense against Nick Premer. He induced a hard-hit grounder right at him and Larson somehow managed to glove it, before throwing the ball to first to keep the Warriors on top.

Woodbridge added a run in the sixth, capitalizing on Jared Kaleikini's leadoff double to left-center field. Modlin's RBI groundout gave the Warriors a 3-1 lead.

The lead wouldn't hold up. Larson issued his first walk, to McCarthy, the leadoff hitter. Schwartz and Hueston each singled to load the bases. Hurst ended Larson's day with a bases-loaded clearing double. The hit marked the sixth off Larson, who struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings.

"Larsen got the win," said a smiling Larsen of the Larsen vs. Larson matchup. "He's a good guy. We play with each other on the Quakes [Baseball Academy in Lake Forest]. It's all fun out here, but he's definitely one of the top pitchers in our league."