High School Baseball: Sage battles top seed

Desert Christian visits Lightning for CIF Southern Section Division VI semi today.

June 01, 2010|By Barry Faulkner

Before Andy Berglund started getting post-victory high-fives from his Sage Hill School baseball players, the third-year coach received puzzled looks.

The latter were produced by his early mention of winning a CIF Southern Section championship soon after taking over at the Newport Coast private school.

"My first year here was pretty bad," said senior Patrick Vorwerck, who was a freshman when the Lightning went 9-12 to cap a three-year stint in which the program went 22-43. "We didn't really think winning CIF was in the realm of possibility."


That has all changed under Berglund, who guides the Lightning (20-5) into today's CIF Division VI semifinal against top-seeded Desert Christian (26-1). First pitch is 3:15 p.m. at Sage Hill.

The Lightning, 51-17 under Berglund, are just two wins away from the program's first CIF crown, only the third in any sport for the school that won section titles in girls' tennis and girls' volleyball in 2007.

But long before it recorded its first second-round win (3-1 over host Windward of Los Angeles on May 25) and quarterfinal triumph (6-5 at home against No. 4-seeded Vasquez of Acton on Friday), the Lightning had embraced Berglund's grandiose goals.

"Now, we see [a CIF title] happening," Vorwerck said.

Berglund said he believed last year's Sage squad had a chance to achieve his CIF title dreams. But the Lightning were bounced from the playoffs in the second round and finished 16-5, which was then a school single-season record for wins.

"We talked about [winning CIF] the first season I got here," Berglund said. "We set goals every year and our team goals this season were to win the Academy League, to win on the road in the playoffs and to go after a CIF title. To be just two games away is a great feeling."

Senior star A.J. Wolfson, who transferred from Laguna Hills to join Berglund's first Sage Hill team, said this group of seniors, which includes six starters, has long been intent on establishing a diamond legacy.

And while this team may already have done that, Wolfson said he and his teammates are far from satisfied.

"It feels good," Wolfson said after the historic quarterfinal win, in which he earned the pitching victory to improve to 8-1. "But I want to set the bar as high as it can go, and I think everyone here does, too. We're a very cohesive unit, we work well together and we practice hard together. There is a lot of talent on this team. We have six or seven starting seniors and all of them can play."

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