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Mater Dei loses high-scoring thriller
SANTA ANA - When the CIF-SS baseball brackets were released, the eyes of some widened as they stumbled across the wild-card matchup of two formidable baseball programs.
Mater Dei versus Harvard-Westlake of Studio City had been a budding nonleague rivalry for a few seasons, and their postseason rendition Tuesday did not disappoint.
Ezra Steinberg singled home the winning run in the top of the seventh inning, and Harvard-Westlake defeated the Monarchs, 11-10, on Tuesday in a Division 1 playoff game at Mater Dei High.
The teams combined for 29 hits. Steinberg’s decisive knock came against Nick Pratto (3-1). The Monarchs left-hander, considered one of the top sophomore pitching prospects in the nation, had not taken the mound in a game since March 17 due to a back strain.
The Wolverines (23-5) batted around in the first, scoring five runs to put the Monarchs (17-13) in a hole.
Home runs by Brandon Perez and Grant Burton helped the Monarchs tie the score at 5 after one inning.
“Our team played with a lot of heart and passion today,” Monarchs coach Burt Call said. “We kept our energy, kept our composure, and got back into a great ballgame.”
Harvard-Westlake retook the lead with a run in the third, and a two-run homer from Cameron Deere extended its advantage to 8-5 in the fourth.
But the Monarchs rallied again. Josh Stephen homered, and Perez drove in Bryan Call with a single to make it 8-7 going to the fifth.
“(Harvard-Westlake) has always been competitive,” said Perez, remembering a pair of close wins against the Wolverines earlier in his career. “We knew we had a good challenge. We played our hearts out.”
The Wolverines added single runs in the fifth and the sixth to build a three-run margin.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Monarchs capitalized on a pair of errors by Harvard-Westlake. The second miscue allowed two runs to cross before Brendan Hamilton tied the score at 10 with a single.
In Division 5:
Whittier Christian 3, Campbell Hall of North Hollywood 2: The Heralds (17-12) won their wild-card game and advanced to play at Monrovia on Thursday.