Most Viewed Stories
Mission Viejo rebounds as playoffs near
The Diablos snap out of their slump to beat Dana Hills, 6-2, and secure third place in the Sunset League.
MISSION VIEJO - If Mission Viejo is back to playing like a top team again, the Diablos are doing so at the right time of year.
The Diablos played well in all areas Thursday in a 6-2 home baseball victory over Dana Hills.
The teams were tied for third place in the South Coast League going into the game, the final day of the regular season. Mission's triumph gives the Diablos (20-7, 8-7) the South Coast's third and final guaranteed playoff berth.
Dana Hills (15-12, 7-8) finished fourth and must hope to receive an at-large berth in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs. At-large berth recipients, seedings and brackets for the seven CIF-SS divisions will be released Monday beginning at noon and will be available at ocvarsity.com.
Mission Viejo spent a couple of weeks in first place and was 6-1 on April 16. The Diablos, ranked No. 1 in the county earlier this season and No. 7 this week, then lost four consecutive league games and had dropped six of its past seven league games, including a 4-3 loss to Dana on Tuesday.
The Diablos on Thursday got strong pitching from Willie Kuhl, solid and errorless defense, and timely hitting. Kuhl said that such production was missing the past few games.
"We stopped hitting and our pitchers weren't hitting their spots," Kuhl said.
But the Diablos were not getting blown out every game, Coach Chris Ashbach said.
"Three of our league losses were in extra innings, "Ashbach said. "Two others were on walkoff hits."
Mission Viejo junior third baseman Ryan Muno, a transfer from La Quinta of La Quinta, drove in three runs, two on a bases-loaded double in the sixth that turned a two-run lead into the final four-run margin. Senior center fielder Dean Friedberg hit two doubles.
Mission could play in the wild-card round Tuesday. Whether the Diablos open the playoffs with a wild-card game or in the first round depends on how the CIF-SS baseball playoff committee evaluates the division's 10 leagues.
If the committee's ranking of those leagues has the South Coast among the top leagues in the division, that could mean Mission won't have to play a wild-card game.