There are signs that Long Beach Wilson is ready to regain its status as one of the elite high school baseball teams in Southern California.
On Tuesday at Blair Field, the Bruins collected 11 hits, including three by senior Cody Harris, to knock off Lakewood, the No. 1-ranked team in Southern Section Division I, 6-4, in a Moore League game. It was the second time this season that Wilson (14-9-1, 5-2) has beaten Lakewood (22-4, 6-2).
"I'd be wrong to say we're not back," Wilson Coach Andy Hall said. "I think we're a talented group. For us to build on this, we have to beat Millikan on Friday. It's a process we're working on."
With Millikan beating Long Beach Poly, 6-4, in eight innings Tuesday night, the wild Moore League now has four teams in the running for the league title. Poly, Lakewood and Wilson all have two losses in league play, with Millikan having three.
Three years ago, Wilson was ranked No. 1 in the country after winning the Division I title and going 32-3. Two years ago, the Bruins lost to Simi Valley, 4-1, in a nine-inning Division I final. Last season, Wilson won 21 games but had the misfortune of having to face first-round draft pick Tyler Matzek of Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley in the opening round of the playoffs.
There's one Wilson player still around who has seen it all. That's Harris, a third baseman. He was in the dog pile as a freshman called up to varsity in 2007. He was a starter when first-round draft pick Aaron Hicks was leading the way in 2008. And he was there to see Matzek last season. Now he's the player trying to get Wilson back into top form.
"We've been struggling a bit, and to get two wins over the top-rated team is a start," Harris said.
The Bruins handed Jeff Yamaguchi (7-1) his first defeat, and got lots of clutch hitting. There was a first-inning RBI single by Chris Hubbard. In the fifth, there were RBI singles by Harris and Keith White. In the seventh, there was an RBI double by Solomon Williams. Junior Ty Provenchar pitched three scoreless innings of relief, then survived a pressure-filled seventh to get the win.
Harris, who has a 3.9 grade-point average and is headed to the Master's College, is certainly a good role model for his teammates. He had two older brothers play baseball for Lakewood. He was supposed to move to South Carolina before his freshman year when his father's business left, but his mother decided to stay behind so Harris could go to Wilson.
He has experienced all the things Wilson's young players are going through, from having to carry buckets and chairs at practice, to learning what to do when facing pitchers who throw 90 mph.
"I feel like I'm old, but I still have a lot to learn," he said.
He'd like to show his teammates what it's like to participate in a championship dog pile, something the Bruins are very much capable of doing.