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Orange Lutheran baseball beats Corona in showdown between state’s top two teams

Gabe Fraser (3) of Orange Lutheran throws his glove in celebration after defeating Corona in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)Gabe Fraser (3) of Orange Lutheran throws his glove in celebration after defeating Corona in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

ORANGE – Brady Murrietta hit a two-run home run and Derek Curiel reached base on all three of his plate appearances for Orange Lutheran in the Lancers’ 4-2 win over Corona on Friday in the championship game of the Prep Baseball California Spring Invitational at Hart Park.

Orange Lutheran is off to an 8-0 start. Corona is 3-1.

In the California rankings of Prep Baseball Report, which organized and managed the tournament, Corona is No. 1 and Orange Lutheran No. 2.

Orange Lutheran won the Prep Baseball California Spring Invitational in its first year, 2022, and was tournament co-champion with Gahr last year.

The Orange Lutheran team gathers for a group photo with...

The Orange Lutheran team gathers for a group photo with the championship trophy after defeating Corona in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Corona Josh Springer (13), left, tags Gavin Hottle (25) of...

Corona Josh Springer (13), left, tags Gavin Hottle (25) of Orange Lutheran for the out during the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Vinny Hudson (2) of Orange Lutheran was the starting pitcher...

Vinny Hudson (2) of Orange Lutheran was the starting pitcher against Corona in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Josiah Hartshorn (27) of Orange Lutheran is safe on first...

Josiah Hartshorn (27) of Orange Lutheran is safe on first after Corona first baseman Daniel Rivera (34) had to jump off the bag to catch a high throw in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Orange Lutheran catcher Brady Murrietta (22) catches an infield pop...

Orange Lutheran catcher Brady Murrietta (22) catches an infield pop fly by
Joshua Sur (21) of Corona during the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Derek Curiel (4) of Orange Lutheran reacts after safely sliding...

Derek Curiel (4) of Orange Lutheran reacts after safely sliding into second base after Corona made an error on the throw in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Brady Murrietta (22) of Orange Lutheran, left, comes around third...

Brady Murrietta (22) of Orange Lutheran, left, comes around third for a high-five after hitting a home run in a game against Corona during the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Sam Burgess (42) Corona was the starting pitcher against Orange...

Sam Burgess (42) Corona was the starting pitcher against Orange Lutheran in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Orange Lutheran head coach Eric Borba holds the championship trophy...

Orange Lutheran head coach Eric Borba holds the championship trophy after his team defeated Corona during the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Gabe Fraser (3) of Orange Lutheran, center, reacts after tagging...

Gabe Fraser (3) of Orange Lutheran, center, reacts after tagging out Billy Carlson (3) of Corona at second after Carlson slid off the bag after attempting to steal second base in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Gabe Fraser (3) of Orange Lutheran tags out Billy Carlson...

Gabe Fraser (3) of Orange Lutheran tags out Billy Carlson (3) of Corona at second after Carlson slide off the bag after attempting to steal second base in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Finnegan Stewart (17) of Orange Lutheran is safe on first...

Finnegan Stewart (17) of Orange Lutheran is safe on first after a late throw to Corona first baseman Daniel Rivera (34) in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Orange Lutheran relief pitcher Nolan Tillitt (34) closes out the...

Orange Lutheran relief pitcher Nolan Tillitt (34) closes out the game to defeat Corona in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Orange Lutheran players lift the championship trophy after defeating Corona...

Orange Lutheran players lift the championship trophy after defeating Corona in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Derek Curiel (4) of Orange Lutheran bunts for a single...

Derek Curiel (4) of Orange Lutheran bunts for a single advancing Ben Reiland (11) to second base in a game against Corona in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Gabe Fraser (3) of Orange Lutheran throws his glove in...

Gabe Fraser (3) of Orange Lutheran throws his glove in celebration after defeating Corona in the championship game of the PBR Spring Invitational at Hart Park in Orange on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The Lancers used seven pitchers, one per inning, Friday. In order of appearance: Vinny Hudson, Colt Peterson, Brady Strohm, Sage Nelson, Alex Chavez, Ross Clark and Nolan Tillit.

“We’ve got league starting next week,” said Orange Lutheran coach Eric Borba. “So we really wanted to set everything up. With the rain it’s been tough to have a steady schedule and we wanted all of our pitchers to face some hitters before we go into league.

“And we trust all of our guys. The depth of the pitching staff is one of our strengths.”

Orange Lutheran scored two runs in the first inning and two in the second. Corona scored its runs in the fifth inning.

Corona had not played since Feb. 15 when the Panthers beat JSerra 4-1.

“We got down early to a really good team,” said Corona coach Andy Wise. “And we haven’t played in a while, but there’s no excuse.

“It is tough to come out after taking that time off and play a team that’s been rolling. (The Lancers) were 7-0 coming in and played all the big boys. They were ready and we weren’t.”

Corona will become even better when brothers Brady and Trey Ebel become eligible March 20. That’s when the sit-out period ends for transfers who do not make the change of residence that would grant them immediate athletic eligibility.

The Ebels, whose father Dino is the Dodgers’ third-base coach, transferred from Etiwanda.

In the bottom of the first inning Curiel walked with one out. Murrietta followed one out later with his two-run homer, a blast down the left-field line at a place, Hart Park, in which home runs are uncommon.

Orange Lutheran extended the lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second inning. Finnegan Steward scored on a passed ball and Curiel hit a double to drive in Wyatt Hanoian.

Corona scored its two runs in the top of the fifth. Anthony Murphy’s triple to right field drove in Adria Ruiz for the first run. Next up was Ethan Schiefelbein who struck out, but Orange Lutheran’s catcher, Murrieta, dropped the third strike and had to throw to first base to get the out. Murphy beat the return throw to home plate to make it 4-2.

Orange Lutheran leadoff batter Ben Reiland, a senior left fielder who signed with Oklahoma State, has nine hits in 23 at bats (.391).

Curiel, a senior center fielder who signed with LSU and bats second, is 8 for 21 this season (.381) with seven RBIs.

Junior first baseman Josiah Hartshorn, No. 3 in the order, has six RBIs and sophomore catcher Murrietta has seven RBIs batting fourth.

“It’s special,” Curiel said of the team’s lineup.

“We got Ben Reiland to start if off, a four-year varsity starter going to Oklahoma State,” Curiel said. “Then we go to me, I’ve been here four years just as well. We’ve got Josiah Hartshorn, in my opinion one of the best players in the junior class. Then we’ve got Brady Murrieta and everyone saw what we can do today.”

Corona junior right-handed pitcher Seth Hernandez, who did not play high school baseball as a freshman and sophomore, threw in the fifth and sixth innings. He allowed no hits, walked one and struck out three to give him nine strikeouts in six innings this season.

Orange Lutheran and Corona do not play in the same league. But they could meet again.

Both teams are in the National High School Invitational in April at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in North Carolina. And both would be in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs bracket if they qualify for the playoffs.

Orange Lutheran, No. 1 in the Orange County Top 25,opens Trinity League next week with three games against county No. 3 JSerra, last year’s CIF-SS Division 1 champion. The first of the three games is at JSerra on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Corona begins Big VIII League play with three games next week against Norco. The first of the games is a Corona home game on Monday at 4 p.m.

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