HUNTINGTON BEACH — Eleven days had passed since Newport Harbor High last played a Sunset League baseball game. The Sailors resumed league play on Wednesday and they continued where they left off, in a rut.
A lack of offense in league has plagued Newport Harbor, which lost at Edison, 5-1. In the last 21 innings in league, one run is all the Sailors have produced.
They avoided a third straight shutout in league by scoring in the final inning. Edison starter Noah Kronfly went into the seventh having thrown only 60 pitches, one led to a Sailors hit.
Newport Harbor recorded its second and third hits in the seventh, before Kronfly finished things off. He improved to 5-1 and moved the Chargers (15-5, 6-2 in league) closer to the top of the league, one game back of leaders Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley.
The Sailors (9-10, 2-6) are close to the bottom, tied with Marina in fourth place. Their two victories have come against Marina and Los Alamitos, which is winless in league. Against the top three teams in league, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Edison, Newport Harbor has been outscored, 34-6, and blanked three times.
"We're pretty young at the plate," Newport Harbor Coach Evan Chalmers said. "Any time you see good pitching, it's another feather in your cap, but, you know, now it is league, and, you know, we're going to have to match some of these teams hit for hit if we're going to expect to make the playoffs. We still have a shot."
Seven league games remain for Newport Harbor, which can qualify for the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs as a wild-card team. The Sailors must finish in fourth and with at least a .500 overall record.
Kronfly dropped the Sailors one game below that mark. The right-hander jumped ahead in the count, retiring the side in order in the first, third and fourth innings. The final time Kronfly pulled it off, his defense backed him up.
The top of the fourth featured three hard-hit balls by the Sailors. Logan Mahaffy led off with a shot toward the gap in left-center field, only to watch center fielder Philip Knapp make a running catch near the 340 sign. Then Shaun Vetrovec hit a sharp grounder to third base, where Wyatt Adams handled it and fired a one-hopper to first baseman Adam Moses, who stretched out to dig the ball out to get Vetrovec.
Moses wasn't done stretching in the fourth. Tk McWhertor hit a chopper to the right of second baseman Leo Hyodo, who threw one in the dirt to Moses for the third out.
"They're really not falling for us, even when we hit them hard," Chalmers said. "That's just the way sometimes baseball will bite you."
The excellent defense by Edison seemed to spark its offense in the bottom half of the fourth. The Chargers got to Cal State Fullerton-bound pitcher Connor Seabold (3-5), who through the first three innings kept the hosts off balance with his breaking ball, helping him strike out five.
In the fourth, Brian Schales went after Seabold's first offering and led off with a single. Three pitches later, the Chargers ran the slash-and-run play and executed it. Moses, a left-handed batter, squared up to bunt, then pulled the bat back slightly before he hit the ball over the head of third baseman Jake Norton, who came in expecting a bunt. Moses wound up with a double.
"They ended up getting second and third [with no outs], and then [Michael Mahony singles in a run] to left field. That's just efficient baseball," Chalmers said. "They got a lot of out of their guys without having to really hit the ball very hard."
The Chargers did tag Seabold, who in five innings struck out eight and allowed eight hits and five runs, twice. Kevin Ando's long single in the fourth drove in two runs and Schales blasted a two-run home run to center field in the fifth. Ando and Schales combined for half of the team's eight hits.
Kronfly gave up two doubles, one in the fifth to Jonah Dipoto and another in the seventh to pinch-hitter Luke Genova. Dipoto brought in the run on a groundout, nine of which Kronfly, who struck out four, walked one and hit one batter, induced.
"The guy gave us good pitches to hit. We just got to hit," said Chalmers, whose team wraps up its three-game series against Edison at home on Friday at 3:15 p.m. "It comes down to, you know, being a little bit more aggressive at the plate. We got to get better.
"We're going to have to find a way to solve this quickly."
Edison 5, Newport Harbor 1
SCORE BY INNINGS
Newport 000 000 1 – 1 3 0
Edison 000 320 x – 5 8 0
Seabold, Ogburn (6) and McWhertor; Kronfly and Ando. W – Kronfly, 5-1. L – Seabold, 3-5. 2B – Dipoto (NH), Genova (NH), Moses (E). HR – Schales (E).