"Irvine just made plays," said Newport Harbor Coach Lamar Jefferson, whose team allowed only 11 runs in the tournament's first three games.
"It's frustrating, especially having a historic moment in terms of having the opportunity to be a sectional champ, being from Newport Beach. But you take the good with the bad and learn from it."
Newport Harbor has something to look forward to after its runner-up finish. Next is the Super Regional, which Newport Harbor qualified for after advancing to the sectional championship game.
The five-day tournament gets underway on Saturday in Los Alamitos. Jefferson believes Newport Harbor will see Irvine A again. "We know we can beat them," Jefferson said. "We didn't play our best baseball in these two games. That's the good news."
Things began well for Newport Harbor in the opening game. Starting pitcher John Olmstead retired the side in order in the first inning.
The offense gave Olmstead run support in the bottom half on the inning. AJ Stefano drove in Ethan Barnes with a triple toward the gap in left-center field. Newport Harbor went ahead, 3-0, before Irvine A's next at-bat.
Irvine A responded in a monster way, scoring twice in the second and three times in the third before putting up a big seven in the fourth, and four in the fifth.
After five innings, the umpires called the game. They took a half hour break, as did the two clubs.
As soon as Game 2 began, Irvine A did not lose any momentum. The team scored twice in the top of the first.
NHBA immediately matched the total after back-to-back singles by Stefano and Olmstead in their first at-bat. Stefano came around and scored on a passed ball and Olmstead on a sacrifice fly by Hayden Schott.
The problem was Irvine A's attack continued. The runs piled up and Irvine A was determined to cut the game short by an inning again.
Leonard Memon shut down Newport Harbor during three innings in relief.
"Couldn't get our bats going," said Jefferson, who knew it wasn't because of lack of time.