As the 2021 high school baseball season concluded, right-hander Bryce Rainer of Harvard-Westlake was on top of the world as a 15-year-old freshman. His team won a Southern Section Division 1 championship and he took the mound 9-0.
Fast forward to Friday afternoon at O’Malley Family Field, with snow on the mountains overlooking center field. It was his first pitching start since June 15, 2021. He didn’t pitch in 2022 and decided to keep his valuable arm.
He threw four consecutive balls to start the game against St. Francis, all of them 90 mph. He then struckout three batters in a row. St. Francis’ first seven outs were strikeouts. He had a 60 pitch count and traded positions with two outs in the third inning after striking out seven, walking four and giving up no hits.
Harvard-Westlake (5-2, 2-1) would get away with a 5-2 Mission League victory over the Golden Knights thanks to excellent pitching from Holden Rath, who gave up no hits in 2 1/3 innings and added another arm to a staff that could be scary good during the playoffs in May.
You could see how much hillside talent Rainer possesses, not to mention his hitting ability. Scouts wonder what position will be his focus as a professional player. No scouts were seen at the game, but in 2024 people will struggle to get a parking space. He strikes out 14 batters in 5 2/3 innings this season and does not allow a basehit.
“It feels pretty good,” Rainer said of throwing again. “It’s different coming back in.”
The big news for high school baseball is just how good the Wolverines’ pitching staff could get. Junior trump Thomas Bridges is starting to reach his peak form and another junior, Duncan Marsten, is set to make his high school debut this Friday after sitting out for the past two years due to injuries. He throws harder than Rainer and is committed to Stanford. First he had a back injury, then Tommy John had surgery.
“Duncan is very good. He throws gas,” Rainer said.
Harvard-Westlake was without coach Jared Halpert, who attended a funeral for his father, David. Pitching coach Joe Guntz led the team.
Valencia 7, Taft 0: Richard Ojeda threw a perfect game, retired all 21 batters and struckout 12 batters.
Cypress 6, J Serra 3: Gabe Cobian had three hits and two RBIs, and Matthew Thomas added three hits as Cypress No. 1 handed JSerra the first loss. Cobian struckout seven batters in three scoreless innings of relief.
Royal 1, Camarillo 0: Trevor Hansen threw a one-hit shutout for Royal with nine strikeouts.
Villa Park 2, Esperanza 0: Lefthander Brandon Luu threw a shutout and struckout 10 batters.
Cleveland 7, Marshall 0: Kevin Vazquez and Aiden Siritto combined for a three-hit shutout for the Cavaliers.
Long Beach Millikan 1, Trabuco Hills 0: Austin Paul struckout nine in seven innings and Brett Moody followed with two shutout innings in the nine-inning victory. Jacob Robinson had the walk-off hit in the ninth.
Westlake 3, Verdugo Hills 1: Nate Johnson had two hits in Westlake’s win.
Narbonne 3, Marina 2: Owen Martin and Derek Bringas each had two hits for the Gauchos.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 9, Bishop Alemany 2: Dean West contributed two hits and three RBIs and Madden Ocko had three hits for the Knights (6-0, 3-0) in completing a Mission League sweep.
Chaminade 7, Crespi 7: The Mission League game was abandoned due to darkness and ended in a draw. Greg Rangel hit a three-run home run in the sixth for Chaminade to tie the score. Freshman Isaiah Hearn also homered for Chaminade.
Sierra Canyon 5, Loyola 4: The Trailblazers improved to 7-0 and won it on a walk-off single by Ethan Munoz in the seventh. He had a home run and four RBIs.
Huntington Beach 6, Gahr 3: After an 1-4 start, the Oilers had to run the word from them, eliminating Gahr at number 3. Aidan Espinoza and Colby Turner each had two hits.
La Serna 1, California 0: Nick Williams struckout eight batters and gave up two hits to La Serna.
Edison 1, Capistrano Valley 0: It took the Chargers 11 innings to win.
Arcadia 2, Pasadena 1: Ian Hoffstetter struckout nine batters in seven innings. The Apaches won it in the eighth on a hit by Ben Cooper.
Service 8, San Dimas 3: Roman Martin hit two homeruns and finished with three hits and four RBI’s for Servite.
Maranatha 10, Valley Christian 3: Brothers Eric and Dylan Zdunek gave Maranatha a six-goal lead.
Simi Valley 8, Moorpark 0: The Pioneers won behind Matthew Cuccias, who struckout six in five scoreless innings.
12 Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, Golden Valley 2: Charley Tapia, Ellayne Tellez-Perez, Alexa Miranda and Ella Parker hit home runs for the Knights.