Baseball dominates non-league play, clinches playoff berth

With just six games remaining for the Wolverines this season, the baseball squad is making their final push for a Mission League title. The team currently holds an 18-3 overall record, with all three losses coming in League and by one run.

 

One of the team’s three losses came to rival Loyola. The Wolverines lost the first game of the series 5-4, with Loyola winning on a walk-off sacrifice fly.

 

Just days after suffering the heartbreaking loss, the squad crushed Loyola’s dreams of a sweep with a 4-3 comeback win. The Wolverines were powered by the bats of Chase Aldridge ’15, who went two for two, and Jackson Grayson ’15, who went three for three. Grayson’s biggest hit of the night was a laser over the left-center field wall in the sixth inning.

 

“It felt unbelievable,” Grayson said. “I didn’t really expect it to happen. The fact that I could contribute that much to that win in that big of a game was an unbelievable feeling.”

 

Despite splitting several league series over the past couple months, the Wolverines have managed to go 13-0 in non-league games. Second baseman Aldridge believes their non-league record is a testament to the strength of the Mission League.

 

“I think the Mission League is the toughest league in the country,” Aldridge said. “It’s high level competition and teams know us well. In the fall and winter we play all these others teams from outside league so we get practice with that. But in league it’s a little different. It’s a lot of pressure because you only have 12 games. There are 20 games outside of league.”

 

The squad is still considered to be tough competition. As of press time Maxpreps.com ranks them seventh in the nation and fourth in the state. They are also ranked seventh in the CIF Southern Section poll.

 

A championship performance at the Louisville Slugger Select Classic Tournament in Atlanta, Georgia definitely was a contributor to the squad’s boost in national rankings. The team went 5-0 to win the championship, beating teams from Kentucky, Illinois, and Florida.

 

Shortstop Ezra Steinberg ’15 and first baseman John Thomas ’16 were named co-MVPs of the tournament. Of the 44 players selected to the all-tournament team, 12 of them were from Harvard-Westlake.

 

In both Atlanta and in league play the pitching staff has been solid. The squad pitched their second no-hitter of the season April 25 against Serra, with Matt Beyer ’15, Paul Giacomazzi ’16 and McCabe Slye ’16 combining for the milestone.

 

If the Wolverines go undefeated throughout the remainder of their schedule, they have a strong chance of winning the Mission League. Their strong out-of-league record would help them get a top seed heading into CIF playoffs.

A team that stands in the squad’s way of attaining the Mission League title is Alemany, who currently stands first in the Mission League. The Wolverines open up their next league series with Alemany May 5.

 

“We feel really good heading into our series with Alemany,” Grayson said. “We’re very confident, especially after getting through Crespi with our first league sweep and being able to bounce back against Loyola. We’re excited for the challenge of Alemany and we’re excited to go play them and hopefully get some wins.”

 

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