June 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Despite suffering injury, Beckman third base coach celebrates CIF title with son Zach Ireland

Beckman third base Coach Doug Ireland celebrates with his son Zach after a CIF playoff victory. (Photo courtesy Rosalene Ledendecker).

Beckman High School’s third base coach Doug Ireland and his son Zach will remember their most exciting day in sports for years to come.

Even if it came with some pain for Ireland, nicknamed “Doug the Windmill,” by Patriots head coach Kevin Lavalle.

Moments after Beckman’s baseball team captured the CIF Division 3 title with a 2-1 victory over St. John Bosco in eight innings Saturday, May 18 at Elsinore Diamond Stadium. Coach Ireland jumped for joy to celebrate the win, which his son Zach played a key role in, pitching seven innings, allowing no earned runs and striking out five.

Doug Ireland had just waved Isaiah Kapur home for the winning run and the celebration began.

“It was one of those freak things and thank goodness it happened after Isaiah was called safe,” Ireland said. “I basically waved Isaiah home, and I saw the play and saw that he got around the tag and scored and then I took maybe one or two steps or jumps or whatever, it was a little bit of an out of body experience and I felt like someone had hit me in the back of the heel with a baseball bat or a ball and I went down like a sack of potatoes.

“As soon as I put two and two together, playing with enough baseball guys to see this injury happen, I knew exactly what it was. It wasn’t close enough to the celebration where it was a distraction and I just wanted to get there and celebrate and enjoy it and handle it after the fact. I ruptured an Achilles. The boys got on a bus and I went to the emergency room.”

“I feel bad for him, but he’s doing well, he’s a crutch pro, I saw him yesterday in the house going upstairs and he’s moving pretty good,” Zach Ireland said the day after Beckman won the title. “Unfortunately, he got hurt but he’s doing all right.”

Coach Ireland, who has been on the coaching staff for four years, has remained in good spirits. He’s able to drive since the injury occurred on his left leg.

“It’s good, they’re going to cast it, no surgery and try and have it heel,” he said. “So about three months in a cast and a long journey of rehab, but I would make this trade every year.”

Coach Ireland still vividly remembers the final play.

“That play was closer than I originally thought it would be and then when I saw the throw, I’m like ‘uh oh, we’re in trouble,'” he said. “And then the slide and the throw was a little bit off line. We got to go for it, right?”

Lavalle, Beckman’s head coach, said he had no doubt that Ireland would send Kapur home.

“Isaiah slides in, gets underneath the tag, the melee (celebration) ensues, I think I gave Trevor Ernt a hug first, then Doug was on the ground, I thought he just slipped and he gets up and gives me a big hug and says, ‘oh my God, we’re CIF champs and I just ruptured my Achilles.’ I kind of gave him a hug a little tighter.

“On the bus ride home I called him and said, ‘Doug if I would have told you two months ago that you’re going to rupture your Achilles on the last play of the season when we win CIF,’ he laughed and said, ‘I would have agreed to rupture both of them.'”

Doug Ireland was on crutches to watch is son play the next day for the Pacific Coast League in the Ryan Lemmon Senior Showcase. And now he can look forward to seeing Zach Ireland pitch for the South in the 56th annual Orange County All-Star Game Wednesday at the Great Park.

Zach Ireland was 20-10 with three saves and 231 strikeouts in 198 innings and a 1.69 ERA in four years on the varsity. This past season, he was 7-2 with one save and a 0.62 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 78 innings. He also pitched the first no-hitter of his career.

“That finality and the magnitude of what he has accomplished and how hard he has worked and some of the challenges he’s had, it hasn’t been an easy path for him, and to see it all come together for him not only having the season he did, but to finish that way …. as a dad I can’t be more proud for how he has responded to adversity and as a coach I can’t be more proud of that kid that just went out there and competed every game,” Coach Ireland said.

“It was awesome to celebrate with him and be in that moment with him and to have that, that is connecting us forever and that no one can take away. Nothing better than that.”

Zach Ireland would most likely agree.

“It was a lot of fun, we got to talk about a lot …. and the fact that we got to do it together as father and son and be coached by him in my final year of high school was something cool and a unique experience,” he said.

“My dad has always been a competitor and he’s always wanted to win so it means the world to me that I got to win something with my dad.”

Lavalle, the head coach, said Zach Ireland left his mark.

“He is basically second all-time in almost every Beckman career pitching category,” Lavalle said. “There are some guys that are irreplaceable. Zach entered that category in 2024.”

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