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Baseball Long Beach Poly

CIF Baseball: Long Beach Poly’s Historic Season Ends in Quarterfinals

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management. 

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.

The Long Beach Poly baseball team put together a season for the history books in 2023, but the story ended a few pages short of where they wanted it to. The scrappy never-say-die Jackrabbits ran out of late-game magic on the road in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs, and came up a few plays short against Yorba Linda in a 2-1 loss.

Asked what message he shared with his Jackrabbits, coach Brent Lavoie said, “Just the legacy that they left. It won’t even make sense to put into perspective what these guys did until later down the road. This is such a tight knit group, we’re loose, we have fun and the majority of the time we find a way to get it done.”

That formula has worked magically for the Jackrabbits. They were the first undefeated Moore League champion since 1998’s Wilson squad, and they had only lost three games all season coming into Friday’s road playoff contest. At Yorba Linda, they were just a couple of plays short.

Poly opened the game with a leadoff single from Nate Berumen and a walk drawn by Lucas Scott, but Berumen was caught in a rundown trying to take third, and Poly flew out and grounded out to end the inning.  Yorba Linda would answer in the bottom of the inning after a leadoff double off the wall, and a single to move the runner to third. He was scored on the next at-bat on a sacrifice fly.

Poly star and starting pitcher Lucas Scott buckled down on the mound after that, striking out the side in the bottom of the second and facing the minimum in each of the next three innings. The Jackrabbits got their bats going in the top of the third after a walk to Sebastian Morales, who was moved over twice and then scored on an RBI single by Scott, beating out a throw from short.

Poly didn’t add to their total from that point, however, unable to cash in base runners in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings as Yorba Linda pitchers Aidan Alvarez and Mason Smith were great at working out of trouble. The Mustangs took their lead for good in the bottom of the fifth after a leadoff walk and a sac bunt to put Caden Maloof into scoring position. A double by Raymond Kim scored Maloof and Poly was unable to answer.

The Jackrabbits were so used to seventh-inning magic (having won both of their first two playoff games by walkoff) that there was an air of stunned disbelief in the dugout after the final out.

“I thought they played really well today and competed really well,” said Lavoie of his team. “What a privilege to have the opportunity to play–there’s what, five or eight percent of teams left in California still playing? It’s pretty special. Today was a game of inches, a couple of plays, couple of balls finding holes was the difference. We’re so used to the story of okay, here we go, seventh innings, we’re about to do it. I know the guys are a little shaken, I feel for them right now.”

Poly (24-4, 12-0) graduates a loaded and special senior class but also returns a good crop of talent including several talented pitchers who got experience in big moments this year.

“It all starts with arms and we’ve got three really quality ones coming back ready to rock and roll,” he said. “The future is still very, very exciting for Long Beach Poly.”

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs. Yorba Linda, CIF Baseball

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.