Shaun Vetrovec took the mound for Newport Harbor High and he kept the baseball team in the game for six innings on Wednesday. That's what an ace like Vetrovec is supposed to do.
The host Sailors trailed Edison by one run going into the top of the seventh inning. Vetrovec came back out and got the first batter to ground out. The next one singled to left field, and a fielding error allowed the Chargers to turn a one-run game into a three-run lead.
Edison stringed together four singles off Vetrovec in the seventh, two for runs, ending the right-hander's day and the Sailors' chances of coming back. The Chargers won, 4-1, and improved to 2-0 in Sunset League play.
The affair got away from the Sailors, who have dropped their first two league contests. They sent out their top two pitchers, Connor Seabold and Vetrovec, who are bound for Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine, respectively, in the first two games and have nothing to show for it.
"Absolutely disappointing [because] our kids expect to win," said Newport Harbor Coach Evan Chalmers, whose team plays host to defending league champion Fountain Valley on Friday at 3:15 p.m. "They're definitely disappointed, but on the other hand we know we can compete."
Mistakes cost Newport Harbor (6-3 overall) its best chance to pick up a league victory.
The Sailors, who led, 1-0, after two innings, had an opportunity to jump on starter Kaz Akamatsu in the bottom of the third inning. Newport Harbor loaded the bases, with Seabold and Vetrovec singling, and Tk McWhertor drawing a two-out walk, the only walk given up by Akamatsu.
Akamatsu pitched out of the jam, getting Rigsby Duncan to go down swinging with an off-speed pitch. Akamatsu (2-1) went 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight, giving up five hits and one run, and hitting one batter.
"With the bases loaded we got to find a way to put the ball in play, make them do something," Chalmers said.
"It's just the little things that are really important in a tight game like this."
The Chargers (10-3 overall) ended up producing with runners on base, helping them collect their fifth win in a row. They tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth inning when Michael Mahony doubled to right-center field to drive in a run.
In the bottom half of the inning, Newport Harbor's Chris McCann led off with a double in the gap in right-center field. He didn't spend much time at second base. Jake Norton tried to lay down a bunt on Akamatsu's first offering, but missed. McCann was way off the second-base bag, and catcher Pierson Loska fired to second base to get McCann.
"We got to know that we're in a bunt situation," Chalmers said. "The runner has to make sure the ball is down before he crosses over his feet, and he didn't do that."
Akamatsu used only six pitches to get out of the fourth inning, the least amount in any of his innings. In all, the sophomore threw 93 pitches, 58 for strikes.
Akamatsu retired the sides in order in the first and sixth innings. The second time he fanned the Sailors' No. 4, 5 and 6 hitters.
Edison gave him run support in the seventh. Phillip Knapp, who went two for three, singled to left field, and he didn't stop there. He took second when the left fielder misplayed the ball and let the ball get past him.
Cameron Jabara made sure to keep Knapp from scoring on the next hit. The Newport Harbor second baseman dived to his left to glove the ball, taking away a run batted in from Nick Mailman, who got on board with an infield single. With runners on the corners, Brian Schales singled in a run to left field, and then Adam Moses singled in a run to center field.
Vetrovec (3-1) exited after throwing 115 pitches in 6 1/3 innings. The senior gave up 11 hits, struck out five, walked one and hit two. The Chargers might have recorded a couple of more hits on Vetrovec, if not for Duncan making nice catches deep in right field in the first and fifth innings.
"They have a couple of guys over there that can put the ball out of the yard," Chalmers said of the Chargers, who placed fifth last season in league, ahead of the last-place Sailors.
"We hit a couple of balls hard right at [Akamatsu up the middle and he fielded the grounders in the second and third innings]. Vetrovec smoked that ball to [center field with a runner on third base] and [Knapp] just took one step [to his right and caught it to end the fifth]. That's just the way baseball is, sometimes they drop, sometimes they don't, but again it's the little things … that were the difference in this one."
Edison 4, Newport Harbor 1
SCORE BY INNINGS
Edison 000 110 2 – 4 11 1
Newport 010 000 0 – 1 5 1
Akamatsu, Mahony (7) and Loska; Vetrovec, Ogburn (7) and McWhertor. W – Akamatsu, 2-1. L – Vetrovec, 3-1. 2B – Mahony (E), McCann (NH).