Coach Ed White counsels and encourages the baseball team between games at the March 3 double-header in Avalon on Catalina Island. The Avalon High School Lancers defeated the Eagles in this back-to-back pre-season matchup.
Photographs and story by John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei
The Avalon High School Lancers defeated the Verbum Dei High School baseball team twice in the March 3 doubleheader on Catalina Island. The final scores of the preseason games, considered a practice exercise by the Verb coaching staff, were 9-22 and 6-12 respectively.
“This is like our spring training,” said Coach Ed White. “We need this practice.” The need for a honing of fundamental skills was evident in double digit errors by the Verb squad in each of the two games. The team is reestablishing itself with some seasoned veterans and several new players, said White. “We were a little tentative at the plate,” said White on the return boat from Catalina Island, where decades earlier, the Chicago Cubs held their own spring training. “For many, it was their first game.”
The opening game started well for the Eagles with three runs scored in their first at-bat. However, after finishing the first scoreless, the Lancers began chipping away at that early lead in the ensuing two innings; the score at the bottom of the third inning remained with Verb on top 7-2.
“The fourth inning – we gave them seven outs,” said White, when asked about the turning point of the game. Three critical infield errors and one fielding error began to turn the blue Pacific tide to Avalon’s favor. The inning ended with the Lancers scoring nine, bringing their lead to 11-7. Standout defensive play by junior Christopher Gomez and sophomore Noe Vera did little to stem the tide, as Avalon added three to the scoreboard in the fifth, four in the sixth, and another four in the final seventh inning. Held scoreless through the middle of the game, the Eagles managed to add two runs. The batting prowess of senior Victor Perez was evident on the scoreboard.
The Eagle squad took the field in the second game as home team, while Avalon began to exploit their knowledge of their intimate home field with a strong offensive display at the plate. The first inning ended 0-5. Verb rebounded defensively in the second inning, holding the Lancers scoreless, but the third and fourth innings proved devastating. While White observed that the second go-round was a “more winnable game” than the first, he admitted, “The fourth inning got us again.” The fourth ended 0-10.
A late inning rally of sorts put Verb on the scoreboard with five runs scored in the bottom of the fifth. The rally was comprised of two hits, three bases on balls, and one hit batter. Verb batters were hit by pitched balls more frequently than normal, commented White. Eight Eagle batters were hit by pitched balls in the back-to-back games. As a pair of deer began foraging on the ridge above the ballpark during the final innings, the Eagles added one to the scoreboard and Avalon added two.
Clean-up batter senior Christian Depraect begins his sprint toward first base after connecting with the ball in Game One of the March 3 double-header. The game began well for the Eagles with an early lead that lasted until the third inning.