A young middle school student at Oaks Christian was walking to the baseball field Monday afternoon having a chat with her friend.
“Didn’t Mr. Clayton use to play for the Giants?” she asked.
Yes, Royce Clayton, baseball coach at Oaks Christian, was the San Francisco Giants shortstop and later succeeded Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith as the shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals, making the All-Star Game in 1997. Now he’s having fun coaching the Lions.
“It’s the most gratifying thing I’ve done since my playing career was over,” he said.
He had an especially gratifying day watching his son, Elijah, hit a two-run triple and steal two bases in a 4-1 win over Calabasas, allowing the Lions (14-8, 9-4) to clinch at least a share of the Marmonte League championship with two games to play.
Freshman pitcher Jack Laubacher, making his first varsity start, struck out four and gave up one run in six innings. He’s 15 years old and was stepping in for two injured pitchers. The Lions appear to be reaching peak form, having knocked off Gahr, the No. 1-ranked team in Division 2, last week.
Elijah started the season with a batting average that he couldn’t get over .200. He focused on helping the Lions with his defense at shortstop until regaining his hitting touch.
“I got things figured out,” Elijah said.
As for people remembering his father, the major leaguer, Elijah said, “It’s cool realizing what he did with his life.”
Jordan Kingston didn’t give up any hits during the first four innings for Calabasas before the Lions scored four runs in the fifth. Oaks Christian has a two-game lead over Calabasas and Westlake.
Newbury Park 3, Westlake 1: Andrew Vega had three hits and Derek Turner came on to get the final two outs for the save to lead Newbury Park.
Agoura 9, Thousand Oaks 5: Will Michelman went four for four and Braden Feliciano contributed four RBIs for Agoura.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 2, St. Francis 0: Justin Lee struck out six in six innings for the No. 1-ranked Knights (24-2). Colin Brown had two hits.
Bishop Alemany 3, Sierra Canyon 2: Andrew Garcia’s RBI triple in the eighth inning broke a 2-2 tie and lifted the Warriors to the Mission League win.
Harvard-Westlake 5, Crespi 4: A bases-loaded hit batter in the bottom of the seventh gave Harvard-Westlake the comeback victory and put the Wolverines in position to claim second place in the Mission League. Freshman James Tronstein homered and the Wolverines took advantage when Crespi ace Isaiah Magdaleno left the game after five innings. Tronstein finished with four RBIs.
Loyola 7, Chaminade 3: Walter Urbon contributed two hits and two RBIs for Loyola.
Servite 3, Mater Dei 0: Parker King threw the shutout and Tomas Cernius had two hits and two RBIs for the Friars.
Santa Margarita 5, St. John Bosco 3: Luke Johnson finished with two hits and two RBIs for the Eagles.
Etiwanda 11, Damien 3: Austen Roellig and Anthony Huezo each had three hits for Etiwanda in the Baseline League victory.
Bishop Amat 5, La Salle 4: Isaiah Hernandez delivered the walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh for Bishop Amat. He finished with four hits and two RBIs.
Anaheim Canyon 5, Brea 3: Benji Vargas had two hits and two RBIs for Canyon.
Corona Centennial 6, Corona 5: Michael Malki had a walk-off single in the seventh for Corona Centennial.
Corona Santiago 6, King 1: Michael Padilla threw the complete game, striking out six with no walks for Santiago.
West Ranch 8, Moorpark 0: Ty DePerno had three RBIs and Aidan Buntich had a home run for West Ranch.
Los Alamitos 5, Huntington Beach 4: In a rematch of last week’s game won by Huntington Beach, this time the Griffins won on a walk-off fielder’s choice in the eighth inning. Zoe Prystrajko struck out 12 and hit a three-run home run for Huntington Beach.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 9, Bishop Alemany 5: Charley Tapia homered and finished with three RBIs for the Knights.
Orange Lutheran 4, Mater Dei 1: Peyton May struck out six with no walks for Orange Lutheran.
Esperanza 2, Villa Park 1: Mia Sanchez threw a five-hitter for Villa Park.