Newport Harbor High junior Liam Ogburn, left, has done his best to focus on baseball, as his father, John, is battling Stage 4 throat cancer. (Courtesy of the Ogburns / March 11, 2014)

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  • Connor Seabold, left, excels as a pitcher for Newport Harbor High. He is bound for Cal State Fullerton. His mother, Erin Brown, is battling bone cancer. Photo: Connor Seabold, left, excels as a pitcher for Newport Harbor High. He is bound for Cal State Fullerton. His mother, Erin Brown, is battling bone cancer.
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The ball smacked off the bat and fired right toward Liam Ogburn, the Newport Harbor High pitcher.

He had no time to move away from the danger. He could only react to the damage.

Boom!

The ball pounded at his right foot. It wouldn't be a surprise if he had fallen and grimaced in pain.

But no. Instead he made it seem as if nothing had hit him. His only concern was making the out. He did.

He found the ball, picked it up and threw out the runner. He helped the Sailors win their season opener, 6-0, against Los Angeles Cathedral Thursday by making a play that came from his father's advice.

John Ogburn had always told his son to focus on making the play in those types of situations when he coached him during Newport Harbor Baseball Assn. games.

John Ogburn tells his son now to concentrate on baseball and his life, but for much different reasons than throwing out a runner.

John Ogburn has Stage 4 throat cancer. His 55th birthday fell on the day his son made the fascinating play against Cathedral. It was a bright moment in what might be perceived as a dark time.

Yet the Ogburns clutch onto hope, not despair, says John Ogburn's wife, Amy.

Playing ball, excelling in academics and just being a teenager is all John Ogburn asks of his son.

Liam listens and continues to focus.

The Newport Harbor junior pitcher is doing his best to make this a big year for the Sailors, who are off to a 2-1 start. The out he made in the final inning against Cathedral didn't seem like a huge contribution, but it's a play that can inspire his teammates.

"I was thinking, if my dad can deal with cancer I can deal with a ball to the foot," Liam said after the game. "I felt it hit my foot, but I just wanted to make the play."

The adversity Liam is dealing with has been easier to confront with the support of his teammates and their families.

Playing behind two, NCAA-Division 1-bound pitchers, Connor Seabold and Shaun Vetrovec, has motivated Liam. He looks up to the seniors, who push him to improve.

Seabold, who has a scholarship to play for Cal State Fullerton, has also been helpful when it comes to dealing with the emotional challenges.

Seabold's mother, Erin Brown, endured breast cancer two years ago. The cancer returned, but to her bones, this past fall, and she continues to receive treatment.

Seabold has the same tasks to carry out — to do his best to live a "normal" life.

The pitchers thrive because of their talent, yet also because of the support from their teammates, their brothers.