High School Baseball: Parker Merritt pitches Bonita past La Habra

Bonita’s Cory Kurkierewicz slides home safely in the third inning of Tuesday’s game against host La Habra. (Keith Birmingham / Staff Photographer)

By John Sherrard, Correspondent

LA HABRA – Bonita High School, behind a complete-game performance from senior pitcher Parker Merritt, defeated host La Habra, 8-2, in the final pool-play game of the 39th Annual Anaheim Lions Baseball Tournament on Tuesday afternoon.

Merritt, who scattered five hits, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter, upped his record to 4-0 on the season.

Merritt had a three-hit shutout going until the seventh inning, before La Habra (7-9) scored twice.

Bonita (13-2-1) and La Habra will both play a final tournament game today. Bonita meets Viewmont, Utah at 11 a.m. at Servite High. La Habra faces Millikan at 7 tonight at Amerige Park in Fullerton.

“I thought it was a total team effort, but he (Merritt) came out and threw a lot of strikes and was real competitive,” Bonita coach John Knott said.

“He did a good job in the first inning, after we had that three-run cushion. He had a runner at third and jammed a guy, got a comebacker then got the third out.”

Bonita, which won the CIF-SS Division 3 title last season, scored three runs in the first inning, highlighted by a two-run single down the left-field line by designated hitter Justin Gomez (2 for 2, two runs).

Scoring were third baseman Joe Quire (two walks, run, two stolen bases) and junior first baseman Cory Kurkierewicz (three runs, single, two steals).

Gomez came home on a single to center by senior Jon Reid (2 for 3, steal).

La Habra leadoff hitter, Zack Ferreira (2 for 3) doubled in the first inning but was left stranded at third.

Merritt (4-0) then retired the next nine Highlanders before a single by second baseman Marcus Lopez in the fourth inning.

“My defense helped me out behind me,” Merritt said. “I just focused on my spots (Tuesday).”

Merritt then retired seven more La Habra batters in a row into the sixth inning.

Bonita built up a 6-0 lead through the sixth, scoring a run in the third on a sacrifice fly by Connor Renard (2 for 2, three RBIs) and two more in the fifth on a double by Renard.

Adding two more runs in the seventh for Bonita for an 8-0 lead was Chad Hockin, who blasted a pinch-hit two-run home run to right center. Hockin, a senior, is headed to Cal State Fullerton next season.

La Habra scored twice in the seventh when Garrett Molnar reached on an infield error and came home on a double by Jake Tourville. Pinch runner Frankie Zaluske scored the second run on an infield out by Vicente Perez.

“He (Merritt) did a very good job in hitting his spots and had a good defense behind him,” first-year La Habra coach John Sothern said.

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