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Nunis delivers game-winning hit for Breakers

Laguna Beach edges Victor Valley, 5-4, to stay alive in CIF Division 4 playoffs.

May 23, 2013|By Mike Sciacca
  • Laguna players gather after game as they celebrate a dramatic come from behind win during CIF-SS Division-4 baseball playoff game vs. Victor Valley on Friday.
Laguna players gather after game as they celebrate a dramatic… (Don Leach / Coastline…)

LAGUNA BEACH — Mike Bair asked his Laguna Beach High baseball team to reach down deep in the final inning of Friday's CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoff opener.

"It was about having faith, reaching down and finding it in your heart, and keeping that faith in your mind," he said, explaining what he told his Breakers during a team huddle outside the Laguna dugout, as the Breakers prepared to take their final at-bat against Victorville Victor Valley.

The Breakers, it turns out, thrive on these last at-bats against the Jackrabbits.

A year ago, the teams met in the playoffs and Laguna, in its final at-bat, used a walk-off home run to pull out a 5-4 victory. It seemed unlikely that it would happen again, by that same score. No, not with Laguna down to its final two outs and trailing, 4-0.

But, it was deja vu all over again.

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This time, Laguna scored five runs with one out in the bottom of the seventh, the final, decisive one coming in on a towering single by Richie Nunis up the alley in right-center field. The junior's walk-off hit gave the Breakers an improbable, 5-4 win and kept their season alive.

Laguna, the No. 3-seed in the tournament, was able to extend its school-record win streak to 22 games. The Breakers, now 26-2, advance to the second round Tuesday.

"Wow," is what Bair said after he addressed his team, moments after the Breakers had completed their wild comeback. "We have been preaching all year, to finish, and finish strong. You can't finish much better than that."

Laguna failed to score until its final at-bat, something that hadn't happened all season to the Breakers. They had six hits heading into the seventh and to that point, had been out-hit, 8-6, by Victor Valley. The Breakers couldn't get to Jackrabbits starter Danny Perez who lasted four batters into the seventh before he was relieved.

"That pitcher [Perez] sure was hitting his spots," Bair said. "He kept us off-balance pretty much the entire game. We didn't make any adjustments there at the end, though. We just continued to make the most of our at-bats.

Perez got Jackson Rees to strike out on a full count to start the bottom of the seventh. Laguna had a glimmer of hope when Larry Stewart followed Rees and sent a slow grounder toward third base. The Jackrabbits' Kaleyl Anderson had no chance on the play, and Stewart was safe at first.

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