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Newport Harbor baseball unable to hold off Oak Christian in semifinals

NEWPORT BEACH >> The fortunes of the Newport Harbor baseball team took a 180-degree turn in a single inning of its CIF-SS Division 3 semifinal against Oaks Christian on Tuesday at Newport Harbor High School.

The Sailors held a slim lead throughout most of the game before the Lions scored three runs in the sixth inning and then hung on for a 3-2 victory.

Oaks Christian (20-11) will take on La Quinta of La Quinta for the championship on Friday or Saturday at Cal State Fullerton. The Blackhawks defeated La Sierra, 8-5, in the other Division 3 semifinal Tuesday.

“I was really happy for them to be able to get this far,” Newport Harbor coach Josh Lee said of his team. “They got on roll which is really what playoffs are about. This group in particular really deserved. They set a lot of records which they now hold at Newport Harbor.”

Sam DiCarlo was pitching a shutout for Newport Harbor through the first five innings, as he allowed two hits and a walk with nine strikeouts.

The Sailors (19-12) led 1-0 before adding a run in the fifth.

Elijah Clayton led off Oaks Christian’s sixth with a single, stole second and scored on Christopher Tampoya’s single to get the Lions on the board

One out later, Thomas Farmer doubled home Tampoya to tie the score 2-2.

A passed ball on a strikeout allowed Farmer to go to third and then score what turned out to be the winning run on a slow, rolling infield single from Royce Clayton Jr.

The Sailors turned a double play to get out of the inning with two more chances at bat.

Lions starter Jaden Onaca gave up a one-out single in the sixth and two-out walk in the seventh, but stranded both runners to secure the victory.

After a shaky first inning, Onaca settled down, retiring the sides in order in the second and third innings, and pitching out of a jam with runners on first and second with no outs in the fourth, before giving up a run in the fifth.

“He just kept going out there and scratching, pitching through traffic and getting out of some pretty tough jams,” Oaks Christian coach Royce Clayton said. “He showed a lot about his character.”

The first inning was pivotal in the contest.

With runners on first and second and one out, Sailors No. 4 hitter Jackson Gilles doubled to left-center field.

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