SIMI VALLEY -- It’s hard to find a hotter high school pitcher in Southern California than Newbury Park’s Luke Eubank.
In five starts, he is 5-0, has two no-hitters, three shutouts and 40 strikeouts in 35 innings.
He took a perfect game into the fifth inning against Royal on Tuesday, retiring the first 14 batters he faced.
Even though he lost his perfect-game bid, Newbury Park won the Marmonte League game, 4-0. Eubank struck out nine, didn’t walk a batter and only allowed two baserunners.
Royal’s Jonah White broke up the perfect game with a two-out single in the fifth inning. Jared Paar was the only other batter from Royal to get on base. He led off the seventh inning hitting a routine ground ball to second base that was bobbled, allowing Paar to reach first base on an error.
Newbury Park coach Matt Goldfield said Eubank was a little under the weather the past two days, but he had no doubt his senior right-hander would deliver again.
“When we put Luke out there, the guys know he’s giving it his all,” Goldfield said. “He’s sick today. Yesterday I let him go home early from practice. They just know this guy is giving everything. They have the confidence. You see it in the defense. Every time they’re out there, they’re in a no-hitter. They have to play good. The intensity level is high, any time Luke’s on the mound, you don’t want to make that error or you don’t want to have that ball get by you for a hit. You can see today, he almost had another one.”
Eubank has recorded no-hitters against Loyola and Calabasas. If he can notch another no-hitter, he will be included in elite company in California high school baseball.
Only five pitchers in Southern Section history have thrown three no-hitters in the same season. Tony Ankerson from Mater Dei in Santa Ana holds the state record with five no-hitters in the 1957 season.
Frank Followell from Long Beach Wilson threw four no-hitters in the 1949 season. He was matched in 1972 by Bob Goodyear from Los Angeles Lutheran.
Todd Bridge threw three no-hitters for St. Monica in 1976. The last high school pitcher in the Southern Section to throw three no-hitters in the same season was Jeff Blankenship for El Dorado in 1978.
It has been 34 years since any high school pitcher in the Southern Section has thrown three no-hitters in the same season. Eubank, with two already, has a legitimate shot at joining the three no-hitter club.
Against Royal, Eubank struck out the first five batters he faced and six of the first seven. When asked if he thought about skipping a start because he was sick, Eubank responded with a defiant, “No.”
“Of course I’m not going to miss a start,” Eubank said. “I love to pitch. Either way, if I’m not 100 percent, I know my teammates have my back. I’m going to go out there and give it my all.”
Newbury Park took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Taylor Zander reached on an error to lead off the game and went all the way to third base. He scored on a ground out.
Nick Lovullo gave Newbury Park a 2-0 with a solo home run in the third inning. Joe Christian made it 3-0 with an RBI single in the fifth inning.
Lovullo drove in the fourth and final run for Newbury Park with a single in the sixth. In addition to coming up with some clutch hits at the plate, Lovullo made some timely plays at shortstop to keep the perfect game intact for five innings.
“They can do anything,” Eubank said. “The plays they make behind me just make me pitch better. The two no-hitters I’ve thrown, it’s all been good defense. It’s not just me. I gotta give it up to them. They’re the reason for my success.”
Ebank struck out at least one batter in each inning but the seventh. Five Royal batters struck out looking.
“We try to make some adjustments just to get the ball in play,” Royal coach Dan Maye said. “A lot of our hitters early in the game were feeling him out. We’ve seen him before, last year and the year before. They didn’t make any adjustments early. Then later in the game, they made some and they were able to put the ball in play. It made their defense make some plays, which is what we wanted early in the count.
“He’s around the strike zone. He throws a lot of strikes. You make some adjustments, but he’s still good. He’s hard to beat.”