For the Coronado Islanders baseball team, every game from here on out is pivotal. Heading into last week there were just two series left before the conclusion of their regular season. However, the Islanders, who are winners of six of their last eight games, are playing with perhaps their highest level of confidence all season. This past week the Islanders looked to stay locked for their league series vs. the Chiefs of Clairemont High School.
For the first game of their series on April 25, head coach Morgan Cummins sent Taylor Werth to the bump to try to silence Clairemont’s bats. Werth put forth a strong effort as he hurled five innings of a three-run ball on five hits while striking out three.
While Werth did his job on the mound, the Islanders did their best to provide him with some run support as they tacked on two early runs thanks to an RBI fielder’s choice from Ryan Ward to score Tony Miley in the first. And in the second, Shane Cannon scored on an error to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead. Coronado tacked on one more run in the fourth after an RBI fielder’s choice by Tommy Rak would score Aidan Ramirez to make it a 3-1 game heading to the fifth.
But the Islanders were not be able to hold their lead in the latter innings as Clairemont ended up winning the game in walk-off fashion thanks to a pair of two-run homers in the bottom of the fifth to tie it 3-3; and a walk-off homer to win it 5-3 to take first of the three-game set.
While game one did not go as the Islanders had hoped, they quickly turned things around for game two on April 27. The Islanders came out swinging by scoring three runs in third thanks to an RBI double by Chance Pettit, an RBI single by Harley Harrington, and an RBI single by Dylan Noble.
The Islanders enjoyed hanging three on the board so much in the third that they decided to do it again in the fourth. Coronado’s first three batters of the inning, Patch Moore, Ward, and Tony Miley, reached via walk. Next Harrington stepped up and plated one, thanks to Clairemont. Then Noble clutched again and lined an RBI single to the left, scoring Miley. The inning’s final run came via a steal of home by Ryan Ward to make it a 6-1 ballgame.
With the six-run cushion, Islanders starter Max Murray had all he would need to carry the Islanders the rest of the way on the mound. The right-hander would twirl a certified gem going six innings, allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out 10, adding yet another dominant start to what has already been an impressive 2022 season.
“I thought it was Max’s best outing of the year. He commanded the ball really well and kept their hitters off balance by throwing both pitches for strikes,” said Islander Head Coach Morgan Cummins.
Dylan Noble toed the rubber for the final inning and worked a quick 1-2-3 inning striking out two and closing the book on the Islanders’ 6-2 victory in game two.
For the third and final game of the three-game set, the Islanders headed back to Clairemont on April 29, hoping to get some revenge for their loss in game one.
In their return to Clairemont, the Islander’s offensive would explode. Coronado tallied 13 runs on 14 hits, with Miley, Ward, Cannon, and Moore recording a multi-hit game. A bulk of the Islander’s runs came in the top of the fourth thanks to a pair of two-run doubles from Miley and Ward and a pair of runners scoring on past balls.
“Offensively, I thought we did a good job of taking our walks, hitting mistakes, and capitalizing on the majority of opportunities that we had with runners in scoring position,” said Cummins.
But the biggest blow of the afternoon would come off the bat of Ward in the top half of the fifth. After three straight hits from Cannon, Moore and Miley to load the bases, Ward worked a 10-pitch AB that ended with the Islander short-stop sending a 3-2 fastball way over the right-field fence for a Grand Slam to make it a 12-0 game.
“We hit a lot of balls hard in Game 3, capped off by Ryan’s six RBI day at the plate. Shane Cannon and Patch Moore did a great job of flipping the lineup. Tony Miley has been doing a good job in the leadoff spot, seeing a lot of pitches, especially with two strikes,” said Cummins.
But it was not just the Coronado offense that put on a show on the mound; JT Nelson followed up his complete-game shutout from last week vs. UC with another high-quality start vs. Clairemont. The crafty right-hander tossed six efficient innings allowing just two runs on six hits while keeping hitters off-balance with the mix of his fastball and changeup.
With the combo of elite pitching and elite offense, the Islanders took home a 13-3 victory to take the series.
The Islanders’ record now sits at 13-11 with an eastern league record of 5-4. Coronado baseball will return to action this week for another three-game series vs. Christian High School in their final regular-season series of the year.
“Christian will be solid,” said Cummins. “We will have to play great baseball to beat them. It will be a good test for us because they are the type of team we have to beat to make a run in CIF Playoffs.”