The Wolverine baseball program doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.
The last time varsity baseball lost a graduate to the first round of MLB’s first year player draft, it quickly reloaded and won the CIF Southern Section Division-I Championship. The team lost Max Fried ’12 and Lucas Giolito ’12 and rebounded by being named the best team in high school baseball by Baseball America.
This year the team is without Jack Flaherty ’14, resident ace and cleanup hitter, who was drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals. So far, life without Flaherty has been smooth for the Wolverines, as the team holds an undefeated 6-0 record and three-peated as champion of the Easton Tournament. The team headed into Mission League play Tuesday night at Notre Dame. The results of this game can be found on hwchronicle.com.
“Our season has been really good so far,” rightfielder Jackson Grayson said. “We’ve just been able to find a way to win. Our offense has been good, our defense has been good, and our pitching has been good. I don’t think we are even playing to our full potential yet, which is good.”
A big indicator of the team’s league potential was how the team elevated its play during the Easton Tournament. The Wolverines experienced a rocky start, narrowly beating Village Christian 8-7 in the first round with a walk-off single from Ezra Steinberg ’15.
The rest of the tournament allowed the Wolverines to settle into a rhythm. They picked off Saugus 4-1 and Chatsworth 4-0. The game against Chatsworth marked the first career start from Gabe Golob ’16 on the mound, who missed his entire sophomore season with a stress fracture in his elbow. He threw a four-hitter with four strikeouts and one walk in a complete game performance.
The squad beat Agoura 5-2 in the semifinals before vanquishing Alemany 6-1 in the final of the tournament. The game started off slowly on both sides, with a 35-minute long first inning. But for the next six innings, Cameron Deere ’16 limited the Alemany lineup offensively, pitching a two-hitter with five strikeouts.
The Harvard-Westlake batters spread their runs out over several innings, scoring in the first, fifth and sixth innings.
The win gave the team confidence going into Mission League play, which is widely considered to be one of the toughest leagues for baseball in the CIF Southern Section.
“I think a lot of people are underestimating our ability,” Paul Giacomazzi ’16 said. “They just believe that without Jack Flaherty we can’t be a contending team, but we are. Beating Alemany was a huge step forward for us as a team and brought our confidence level up a ton.”
However, the squad is not planning to rest on its laurels.
“We go about our business every day and we try to get better every single day,” Centerfielder Jake Suddleson ’16 said. “We’re doing that right now. We’re getting some good wins. But it’s just about taking it game-by-game and taking it step-by-step and just doing what we do.”
The win against Alemany marked the fourth Easton Tournament win in a row for Harvard-Westlake.
The team further bolstered its confidence with a 12-0 win over Dos Pueblos March 14. Pitchers Golob, Jesse Bergin ’18 and Matt Beyer ’15 combined to a pitch a no-hitter and Deere hit two home runs and plated six runs to power the offense.