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The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Baseball ends successful season with loss to No. 1 Corona in CIF-SS championship game

Varsity+baseball+athletes+pay+attention+to+a+pregame+speech+from+coaches+before+their+matchup+with+Corona+High+School+in+the+CIF-SS+Open+Division+baseball+championship+May+18.
Eric Dearborn
Varsity baseball athletes pay attention to a pregame speech from coaches before their matchup with Corona High School in the CIF-SS Open Division baseball championship May 18.

The baseball team finished their season 27-5-1 overall and 15-1-1 in the Mission League after a 5-0 loss to Corona High School in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIF-SS) Championship on May 18. The squad ranked eighth nationally and second in California by Prep Baseball Report.

First baseman Miguel Villegas ’25 said he attributes the team’s playoff success to their focus on perfecting smaller aspects of their game.

“I feel like what differentiates us from all the other teams is that yes, we have the talent to be better than other teams, but in baseball you can’t always rely on talent,” Villegas said. “It comes down to all of the little details of the game, like making sure you play catch and back up a base. Those small factors can win or lose you a game.”

Leading up to the championship game against Corona, the Wolverines beat Norco High School, San Dimas High School and Orange Lutheran High School in playoffs. Pitcher James Min ’25 said that the team was able to produce consistently good results because of their tight bond and ability to forget about the pressure.

“We treated our time on the field as time to play rather than focus on the score, which allowed us to perform really well,” Min said. “It’s not that we didn’t care about the score, we just didn’t think about it. We just played. And I think because we were so close and had such good chemistry we just won, we just kept on winning.”

During the regular season and playoffs, many of the starters were underclassmen, including all of the catchers and all three starting outfielders. Catcher Michael Gonzalez ’26 said that although he felt nerves going into the playoffs, Baseball Program Head Jared Halpert stressed the importance of playing baseball the same way no matter the pressure level of the game.

“What [Halpert] always told us is when we go into playoffs, we don’t have to change anything,” Gonzalez said. “All year we’ve proven how good we are. We’ve proven that we can take care of business.”

Corona High School was ranked first in the nation for the whole year, and is the first team since Camarillo High School in 2002 to win the state title as the number one seed, according to Scorebook Live. Pitcher Tommy Bridges ’24 said that the team prepared well for the matchup and is happy with the mental toughness they approached the game with.

“Going into a game knowing we’re facing probably the best roster in the country, the vibes have to be up,” Bridges said. “I think we were ready to go but we couldn’t capitalize on their mistakes in the first inning. They capitalized on ours and were just a better team that day, so it’s not the greatest feeling, but it’s baseball.”

Shortstop and Texas commit Bryce Rainer ’24 attempts to throw out a runner in the CIF-SS championship game against Corona. (Eric Dearborn)

Bridges, pitcher Duncan Marsten ’24 and shortstop Bryce Rainer ’24 are all slated to play for Division 1 universities, and Rainer is predicted to be a top 10 draft pick in the 2024 Major League Baseball draft, according to MLB.com. Villegas said he will miss playing with the seniors, and that he is glad to have gotten the opportunity to share the field with them.

“Playing alongside [Rainer], [Marsten] and [Bridges] was very special because they are three very big names that we will see at the next level and the levels after that, so it was an honor to play alongside them and know them personally,” Villegas said.”

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Eden Conner, Assistant Opinion Editor

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