May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Beckman baseball team, on a five-game winning streak, aims for third straight PCL title

Beckman Coach Kevin Lavalle, shown in a game last season, will be out to lead the Patriots to their third consecutive league title. (File photo Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone)

Beckman High’s baseball team is the clear-cut favorite to capture its third consecutive Pacific Coast League title.

The Patriots are off to a 5-2 start and after losing a season-opening doubleheader to Laguna Beach, Beckman has won five in a row.

Beckman plays at Portola on Friday to open PCL play.

“I thought we showed a lot of heart in the way we bounced back after getting swept in the opening day doubleheader,” Lavalle said. “Nobody expects that to happen, on any team at any level. We were pretty shell shocked, but they came to practice on Monday with the understanding that we just have to get better.”

Which is exactly what Beckman did. The Patriots capped a big week at the Brian Hamilton Chino Hills Tournament, defeating Chino 6-1 on Saturday to capture the tournament title.

“Northview and Kaiser were both really excellent teams, and we figured out a way to win,” Lavalle said. “Ontario Christian had two really good arms that we had to adapt to, and then Chino threw their ace against us. In the end, we weren’t perfect but we got a lot of experience and had a bunch of ups and downs, so it was perfect in that regard. We learned how to win, and that is the most important thing.”

The Patriots’ Nick McLain was named the tournament MVP and Lavalle said he was the “obvious choice.”

McLain was 7 for 14 at the plate with five RBI and a home run.. He also had four saves in four appearances on the mound.

“He just did it all. I don’t need to check my old scorebooks to know that nobody has ever had four saves in four games,” Lavalle said. “Nick has been a pitcher his whole life, so he has no problem making that walk from center field (where he plays) to the pitcher’s mound. He is going to do that a lot this spring. He’s pretty incredible to watch.”

Beckman got some other strong performances too.

“Tristan Dupont was 2-0 in the tournament, throwing 12 innings without allowing a run,” Lavalle said. “Hayden Zweig pitched great in our road game at Apple Valley. Jakob Guardado was excellent in the opener at Northview. I knew we had the arms to compete against anybody, and those guys proved me right.

“Nolan Han and Cooper Munro were the other two offensive standouts. Nolan is a sophomore second baseman and Cooper is a senior first baseman. They couldn’t be more opposite as players, but they both delivered. Josh Tamura played a lock down shortstop. Blake Dimos had three pinch hits during the tournament.

“Whenever you’re playing well, it’s easy to make lists like this because Baseball is the ultimate team sport. It takes a team, and we are playing like one now.”

Now, Beckman gets ready for PCL play. Irvine, which won its division at the Newport Elks Tournament, is 6-1; Portola, under first-year coach Kevin Conlin is 5-2, University, with first year coach Steve Hindman is 3-1-1; Woodbridge is 3-2 and Northwood 3-4.

“The PCL is probably as loaded as it has ever been,” Lavalle said. “I know in years past, I’ve looked ahead at the league schedule and tried to do the math figure out who is going to pitch vs. these guys and who will be the number two guy on Tuesday…but this year I think everything is so balanced that all I’m going to do is play for today and worry about tomorrow when it gets here.

“We open at Portola on Friday, and we’ll have our hands full with them, but I think that is a position we’re comfortable with.”

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com