02 03 SoCal High School Baseball: Harvard Westlake Off To Hot Start 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Harvard Westlake Off To Hot Start

Harvard Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) is off to a perfect 6-0 start, including an 11-0 victory over Mission League rival Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.), to win the championship of the prestigious Easton Tournament.

The Wolverines won their five games in the tournament in impressive fashion by outscoring opponents 28-3 including two shutouts and a no hitter.

"We have faced some really good pitchers through the first six games," said Harvard Westlake head coach, Matt LaCour. "Seems that everyone is coming at us with their best, which we expected going into the season."

Against Valencia (Valencia, Calif.), a playoff team the last 11 years, Jack Flaherty was completely dominant tossing a no hitter with seven strikeouts and one walk.  Flaherty, a North Carolina commit, allowed only two base runners in the game.

"Jack was just lights out against Valencia," said LaCour. "Just a huge performance against a really good team."

Flaherty is not the only Wolverine getting the job done on the mound for LaCour. Senior Conor Cuse has been pitching like a veteran expecting to contribute. All of his work has earned him a spot in the rotation.

After bidding his time on the varsity the last couple of seasons, Cuse is beginning to show people outside of the program what he's capable of.

"We certainly are not surprised (by early success) after what Conor showed us in the fall and winter," said LaCour. "Conor has worked harder than any pitcher in our program and finally getting the results."

When asked if Conor Cuse was one of the most underrated player in the region, LaCour suggested it's just a matter of time before everyone knows about his senior pitcher.

"Seniors that get the most attention have usually built their resume over their sophomore and junior seasons," said LaCour. "Conor didn't really have a chance to do that with us on varsity."

The pitching staff isn't alone in early success, the hitters and the defense are getting it done too.

"Arden Pabst has really developed into a catcher that takes his job defensively really seriously," said LaCour.  "We are working really well together and the feedback he gives me is something I have not had in a catcher in a long time."

Pabst, a Georgia Tech commit, is among a deep offensive lineup which includes Flaherty, Joseph Corrigan (USC), Brian Ginsberg, and Ezra Steinberg - who LaCour has described as the glue of this team. The Wolverines seem to be doing everything their coach has asked of them so far.

"We are not walking guys," said LaCour. "We are striking out our fair share, and the defense has done a great job of making plays behind the pitching staff."

In the Easton Tournament, the Wolverines also faced Oaks Christian and their ace, Phillip Bickford, who many believe will be a high draft pick, and came away with a 5-1 victory.

"Bickford has everything you would want in a first round pick," said LaCour. "We have been tested by some really good guys."

When asked about how his pitchers have shown in the early part of the season, LaCour simply said "Flaherty, Cuse, and (Hans) Hansen have been really good."

Harvard Westlake opens Mission League play with two games against Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.) this week. After a sizzling start, LaCour believes he has his team hitting it's stride at the right time. With nine games over the next 18 days - including a return trip to the National High School Invitational in Cary, NC - the Wolverines will be tested by good teams and possible fatigue.

The veteran coach is not letting his team look ahead to a cross country trip to play in what is becoming a premier national event. After all, his team opens league play against a team many expect to challenge for a league title.

"The bad?" wondered LaCour. "This week won't be any easier; Loyola is throwing Quinn Brodey and Kyle Beadles at us."

Sounds like the veteran coach is not reading too much into his teams hot start.

-Les Lukach 

35 36 37 38