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Capital Christian routs Lindhurst baseball
Cougars spoils Blazers' home opener
Lindhurst High baseball coach Jeremy Grace doesn't have the luxury of a full nonleague schedule to make a proper assessment of his ballclub — life in the Golden Empire League doesn't allow that.
With just one tune-up game before GEL play began on March 1, Grace and the Blazers are learning on the fly what it's going to take to compete in this league in 2013.
Capital Christian delivered an emphatic message to Lindhurst on Wednesday afternoon — the GEL title still goes through the Cougars.
Lindhurst could only muster three hits against defending GEL champion Capital Christian in an 11-0 blowout loss in Olivehurst as the Blazers committed seven errors.
The Blazers (2-1, 1-1) opened their season with a 10-5 win over Las Plumas, then jumped right into GEL play with a 10-5 victory against West Campus in Sacramento.
Their first home game showed their is plenty of room for improvement.
"It's tough when you don't get to feel your guys out and see some of the new players," Grace said. "You don't like to have to feel things out in league, you like knowing what you have."
Capital Christian scored two unearned runs off Lindhurst starter Andrew Sutton in the top of the first inning, courtesy of two Blazer errors, which helped prolong the inning.
The Cougars rallied with two outs in the top of the second to score two more and held an early 4-0 lead.
Sutton gutted it out through three innings, but left with a sore arm after his pitch count reached 80. He struck out five.
Capital's timely hitting, mixed in with some Lindhurst errors and free passes in the form of walks, resulted in an offensive barrage by the Cougars and a lopsided final score. The Cougars pounded out 11 hits.
Capital Christian went undefeated in GEL play last season and is 16-2 in its last 18 games against Lindhurst.
"We have to get over this thing where we get intimidated because it's Capital Christian," Grace said. "We have to know we can play with them and believe in ourselves. We have to get our mindset right."
Lindhurst's woes carried over from the field to the batter's box as the Blazers amassed just three hits and only two of their baserunners reached second base.
Capital right-hander Peter Sprague went five shutout innings on just 64 pitches with five strikeouts and retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced, including eight in a row.
Keanu Cortes doubled for Lindhurst, while Chris Sisco and Sutton picked up the only other hits for the Blazers.
"We've got the talent, we just need to kick it up another gear," Grace said. "We just need to get (the players) to believe that and play to that level. I think once we do that, we'll be fine."
Lindhurst has made the postseason in each of the last three seasons.
The GEL is shaping up to be a battle between Lindhurst, Capital, Marysville and Dixon for the three coveted spots in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs.
Sutton, a junior who's in his third year starting at the varsity level, said the key to a return trip to the postseason will be building team chemistry.
"I have confidence that we'll pull together as a team," Sutton said. "It's about building relationships and friendships. That translates to the field."