July 13, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Team meeting turns season around and puts Beckman in CIF Division 3 final

Beckman’s Owen Kelso (left) and Connor Perea celebrate during Tuesday’s semifinal at Los Alamitos. (Photos courtesy Rosalene Ledendecker).

Beckman High School seniors get a chance to cap their careers with a CIF title Saturday when the Patriots take on St. John Bosco in the Division 3 baseball championship game at Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium.

The game starts at 4 p.m. Beckman will be the designated home team.

It has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride for Beckman, which is riding a five-game winning streak (including four playoff wins) into the final and has won 14 of its last 15 games.

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

The Patriots, coached by Kevin Lavalle, won their first eight games, went undefeated through nine (there was one tie with Northwood) before losing four games in a row in league.

Then, a team meeting turned the season around, helped get the offense going and now Beckman is playing its best baseball of the season and is in position to bring home the second CIF title in school history and first since 2011 when the Patriots defeated Woodbridge 4-1 in the Division 3 final.

“We’ve dealt with adversity in the past as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, the last three years ending in heartbreak and a lit bit of disappointment,” said standout pitcher-outfielder Zach Ireland, a UC Davis commit after Tuesday’s 3-0 semifinal victory over Los Alamitos.

Ireland, who threw his first no-hitter this season, said a run to the finals did not seem to be in the works when the Patriots were struggling two months ago.

“But these guys have battled and it’s amazing, it’s a team thing and each guy is playing their role to help the team win. It’s the best time to get hot and the bats are hot,” he said.

“I didn’t know if it was possible, but I knew we had a chance because this team, as opposed to prior years, instead of being in it for ourselves for accolades and for playing at the next level, we’re in it for each other,” added Rex Jarcy, who threw a complete game against Los Alamitos improving his record to 9-2.

Lavalle, who will take a Beckman team into the finals for the fourth time, explained why the Patriots have been successful after Tuesday’s win.

Hard work paid off. So did the belief the players had in each other.

“We’ve gotten better all year long,” Lavalle said Tuesday. “This time of year is really hard. Even tomorrow (Wednesday) we will have a practice plan and these guys will show up and get better in practice, and they love it, they take so much pride in that.”

One of the coaches in the dugout Tuesday was former Beckman pitching star Trevor Ernt, who Lavalle and the Patriot pitchers has credited with the success of the pitching staff.. Ernt, now the pitching coach, was a pitcher on the last Beckman team that was in the CIF Division 2 finals in 2018 against Yucaipa. Yucaipa won the game 8-1.

“Trevor Ernt, after that last ball was caught, looked at me and said, ‘we’re back’ and that’s a great feeling for all these guys and for the seniors, who never won a playoff game and now they’ve won four, the four greatest games of their life,” Lavalle said.

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