Long Beach Poly put up yet another impressive performance at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field on Wednesday night, shutting down Lakewood to take a commanding lead in the Moore League with a perfect 6-0 record that puts them two games clear of the rest of the field. The Jackrabbits admitted that not many expected them to get out to the hot start they’ve had in 2019, a start they added another big chapter to with a 3-0 win over Lakewood.
“I absolutely would have thought it was a long shot,” said senior Jesse Simon, who pitched his second complete-game shutout of the league season, having already helped take down Wilson 2-0. “But we’ve got a different intensity this year in everything we’re doing. We want to attack.”
Simon did that all night as his normally sharp breaking ball was joined by a fastball with some zip. Simon gave up just two hits and retired 14 straight batters at one point, striking out seven including the final batter of the game.
“He’s stepped up, he’s giving us some special performances right now,” said Poly coach Brent Lavoie. Even the optimistic coach admitted he didn’t see things going this smoothly for his squad halfway through the league season. “I would’ve thought if you described this that it was a little bit of wishful thinking, yeah. But I’ll tell you this, I expected to compete in every game and I did think the tide would turn this year.”
A lot of that has been because of Simon, the league’s most dominant player at the midway point. A few weeks after shutting out Wilson, he allowed just five Lakewood baserunners. The other factor for Poly has been timely hitting, which they got more of on Wednesday.
They took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third after Troy Criss drew a walk and was driven in by Jordan Guevara. In the top of the fifth it was Criss who drove in Ben Garza–both RBI hits came with two outs. The Jackrabbits added an insurance run in the seventh when Jack Guerero scored on a squeeze call.
Lakewood got hits from Ricky Tiedemann and Diego Gutierrez but couldn’t put together enough offense to threaten, with only two runners reaching scoring position.
The math is simple for Poly now. They’re two games up on the rest of the field with three games left against the other likely playoff teams. They’re a win or two away from their first league title since 2012. For Lakewood, Millikan, and Wilson, all tied for second with two league losses, it’s going to likely take a perfect performance in the second half of the lead to climb all the way back up to first.
The next big doubleheader for the Moore League is Friday, April 5 at Blair, as Millikan faces Lakewood in the early game followed by Poly and Wilson.