Any mystery about the caliber of pitching that Harbor College would throw against College of the Canyons in the Southern Regional of the state tournament was solved Sunday.
Harbor had good pitching. Canyons had better hitting.
The Cougars, propelled by five home runs, beat Harbor, 12-4, to sweep the best-of-three regional series and advance to the state tournament final for the sixth year in a row.
When the series began, Harbor (27-13) boasted of having excellent pitching depth. It is an asset Canyons does not possess, but Sunday at Canyons, the Cougars roughed up four Harbor pitchers.
"I don't have much to say," Harbor Coach Jim O'Brien said. "Canyons is a fine team and they play in a hitter's ballpark. And they got all the hits."
The Cougars (36-5) got 15 hits, to be exact, including two home runs from Don Erickson. Erickson, a two-time all-conference selection, had 4 hits, 5 runs batted in and anchored 2 double plays. The 5-11, 170-pound shortstop from Kennedy High could have had a spectacular day instead of just a great day.
Considered one of the best defensive players in Southern California, Erickson let a Ray Gomez grounder go between his legs in the sixth inning, allowing Eric Albright to score Harbor's fourth run.
"I couldn't believe I missed that one," Erickson said.
The Harbor run was minor damage, however. Starting pitcher Darrin Beer (13-1) worked well for five innings before giving up a single and double in the sixth.
Beer was pulled by Coach Mike Gillespie in favor of Chris Zavatsky, who struck out the first batter he faced and finished the game to record his fourth save.
Scott Drury, Pete Kuld and Frank Halcovich each homered for Canyons. Kuld's was his 17th this season, breaking a school record of 16 previously held by Bill Bluhm.
Canyons' opponent in the state tournament final, which begins Thursday at either Blair Field in Long Beach or at Cal State Long Beach, will be determined today.