Santa Margarita players chase down Cory Mendoza, second from left, to celebrate beating Mission Viejo 5-4 in the CIF-SS Baseball Division 1 wild card playoff game Tuesday.

Mendoza makes sure Santa Margarita advances


Bases loaded, game tied, bottom of the seventh inning, two outs with Cory Mendoza at bat for Santa Margarita.

Mendoza had visions of delivering the big hit. He did not do so.

"I was a little bummed out," Mendoza said. "But however you can get it done ... "

Mendoza got it done by getting hit. He took a pitch to his backside to send in Andrew Thompson with the winning run in Santa Margarita's 5-4 victory over Mission Viejo on Tuesday in a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 wild-round playoff game at Santa Margarita High.

The Eagles (17-11) will play at Santiago of Corona (17-9) in a Division 1 first-round game Thursday.

Mission Viejo (18-12-1) took a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh on Tyler Clark's sacrifice fly.

Tony Bone led off Santa Margarita's half of the inning with an opposite-field double down the right-field line. JJ Carr was hit by a pitch, Dillon Miyashiro's sacrifice bunt moved Carr to second and an intentional walk to Thompson loaded the bases. Griffin Canning walked to send home Bone for the tying run.

After a force play at home for the second out, Mendoza stepped into the batter's box. He worked a 2-2 count then fouled off three consecutive pitches before getting hit by the pitch.

Santa Margarita's Austin Ponzi was confident Mendoza would make something good happen.

"Cory's my best friend," Ponzi said. "We have this connection. I knew he was going to get a hit, or get hit."

Ponzi got a big hit himself. He launched a three-run home run over the left-field fence to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead.

The Diablos scored first on an RBI single by John Balliet in the third inning.

After Ponzi's three-run blast, Mission Viejo made it 3-2 when Evan Nelson, who had doubled, eventually scored on Zack McLeod's ground out.

Clark tied it for the Diablos on a towering, solo home run to right field in the sixth.

Mission Viejo had 12 hits to Santa Margarita's five.

Mission Viejo starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval, a sophomore left-hander, went the distance. Canning threw six innings for the Eagles.

In other wild-card round games:

In Division 1:

El Modena 3, Simi Valley 1: Dominic Campo and Allen Gonzalez had two hits apiece for the home Vanguards (16-12). El Modena, the No. 3 team from the Century League, will play at Lakewood in the first round Thursday.

In Division 2:

Irvine 8, Bellflower 0: Evan Dossett went 4 for 4 for the host Vaqueros (13-14) who play at fourth-seeded Cypress in a first-round game Friday. Irvine finished third in the Pacific Coast League.

In Division 3:

Segerstrom 5, Redondo Union 3: The host Jaguars (17-9) got their first baseball playoff victory as David May pitched six in which he allowed one run. Segerstrom plays at Paloma Valley of Menifee in a first-round game Thursday. The Jaguars, who finished third in the Golden West League, scored four runs in the second inning.

In Division 4:

Estancia 7, Montebello 1: Ben Beck had two hits and scored twice for the visiting Eagles (17-9) who play at South Torrance in a first-round game Friday. Tyler Rios pitched a complete game in which he allowed no earned runs.

La Habra 9, North Torrance 2: Jake Tourville drove in three runs and Vicente Perez drove in two for the host Highlanders (15-13). La Habra, which finished second in the Freeway League, plays at Del Rio League champion La Serna of Whittier on Friday.

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