Holland turns up the power in Mission Viejo triumph


MISSION VIEJO - Chaminade of West Hills got the early jump on Mission Viejo and starter Kieran Lovegrove, scoring two runs in the first inning of Thursday’s CIF-SS Division 2 first-round playoff baseball game.

However, by the time Lovegrove and the Diablos offense, notably Mitchell Holland, were finished, the final score told a different story.

Lovegrove pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing just the two runs, and Holland belted a pair of three-run home runs, leading the defending champion Diablos to an 8-2 home victory over the Eagles (15-14).

The Diablos (18-13) will face Damien of La Verne in the second round Tuesday. The game will be at Damien.

“Maybe a little bit of nerves and some untimely infield singles and jam shots,” Lovegrove said of his first inning. “That happens, you just have to come back from it.”

Lovegrove (8-3) scattered seven hits, three of which were infield singles, and struck out seven. Anthony Shew replaced him in the seventh to get the final two outs of the game.

“I figured they weren’t going to go out and smash balls, so I knew that if I made my pitches, they were going to make outs,” Lovegrove said. “I relied more on pitching to contact instead of strikeouts, and the whole team played great defense behind me.”

The Eagles had four hits in the first inning to score their two runs. Around the hits, Lovegrove struck out three batters in the inning.

“He stayed composed,” Mission Viejo coach Chris Ashbach said of Lovegrove. “He probably wasn’t throwing as hard as he normally did, but he realized that he needed to locate a little bit more. He threw too many change-ups, but he came back and realized that he can beat guys with fastballs and sliders and he got back into rhythm.”

The score remained 2-0 until Holland came to the plate in the third inning. On the first pitch from Chaminade starter Kevin Lewallyn, Holland made the score 3-2 with his first three-run home run of the game.

In the fourth, Kyle Candalla singled to drive in Zach McLeod and Derek Meddings reached on an infield single, bringing Holland to the plate again. This time on the second pitch, he went to right field for his second three-run home run, making the score 8-2.

“I haven’t had a two home run game since little league,” Holland said. “It feels good to help the team out today. The first one, I got a fastball and I went up there looking to attack early. I thought my first at-bat (of the game), I was a little tentative and I went up the second time looking to be aggressive.”

Holland said he got another fastball on his second home run. He came to the plate in the sixth with runners on first and second, but this time he hit into a double play.

“This year may not have gone as well for him as he would have wanted, but it is nice to see this happen for him,” Ashbach said of Holland. “He had a great day. He picked us up, put us on his back. It couldn’t have happened to a better kid.”

The Diablos finished with 12 hits, with eight of the nine batters getting at least one hit.

Mission Viejo has a recent history with its second-round opponent, Damien. The Diablos defeated the Spartans, 12-2, in the quarterfinals last year. The teams also met this season in the Chino Tournament, with the Spartans defeating the Diablos, 3-0.

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