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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL

Orange Lutheran plays 'little ball' to beat Vista Murrieta, 7-2

Lancers have six singles among their 10 hits to pick up the victory in a Southern Section Division 1 second-round playoff game and advance to play West Ranch in a quarterfinal matchup Friday at Valencia.

May 22, 2012|Eric Sondheimer

Call it perfect timing in the era of BBCOR bats.

Top-seeded Orange Lutheran has put together a baseball team that relies on pitching, defense, bunting and finding ways to score without the aid of a home run.

It has led the Lancers (23-4) into the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs after a 7-2 win over Vista Murrieta in a second-round game Tuesday at Hart Park.

Six of their 10 hits Tuesday were infield singles. Conner Sullivan, who had three singles, started the game sliding into first base to beat out a ball that pitcher Jeff Moberg couldn't handle. That ignited a five-run inning that featured a three-run double by catcher Matt Stumme.

"We know if we can make the defense work, mistakes will happen," Sullivan said. "We'll get on base and the big guys will knock them in."

Coach Eric Borba has a deep, talented pitching staff. Starter Brent Wheatley, a USC signee, threw the first four innings, and sophomore Garett King finished. The two combined on a five-hitter.

Ace Art Vidrio will get the call against Valencia West Ranch on Friday at West Ranch. That will be Orange Lutheran's first road game of the tournament, and the winner will get to advance to the May 29 semifinals at Blair Field in Long Beach, a pitcher's ballpark. Orange Lutheran has hit two home runs this season.

Sullivan, a center fielder who was Lutheran's starting quarterback for the football team, still looks as if he hasn't given up football the way he keeps sliding into first base.

"It's something that's been a habit for me," he said. "I know I have to break it. Coach has talked to me a bunch of times and told me not to slide. I still have some football in me. I still have some desire to get dirty. I like hustling all the time. If I feel I have to get down, I get down."

The big surprise Tuesday was that two teams from the Foothill League are still alive. West Ranch defeated Capistrano Valley, 8-5. Saugus rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat defending Division 1 champion Riverside North, 7-4.

Ty Moore had a two-run home run and struck out the side in his closer role in Mater Dei's 6-5 win over Temecula Valley.

Among the final eight teams, two are from the Trinity League, two from the Foothill and two from the Century.

The matchups for Friday: Orange Lutheran vs. West Ranch; Corona vs. El Dorado; Saugus vs. Newbury Park; Mater Dei vs. Esperanza.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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