The winds began to pick up late at Corona del Mar High. They always seem to blow in the same direction whenever the Sea Kings are in the first round of the CIF Southern Section baseball playoffs.
Things headed south for CdM in the top of the eighth inning on Friday.
One dropped fly ball in right field, a missed tag at second base, and then not turning an inning-ending double play hurt the Sea Kings’ chances of getting out of the first round for the first time in eight years.
Those miscues quickly turned a tied game into a five-run eighth inning for Chino Hills Ayala, giving it an 8-3 upset win in extra innings.
For the second time in three days, the Bulldogs went on the road and won in the Division 2 playoffs. After Joe Naranjo threw a five-hitter and struck out 11 in a 1-0 win at Villa Park in the wild-card round on Wednesday, Ayala (22-10) got a stellar complete-game performance from another left-hander.
This time it was Adam Seminaris’ turn to throw. And he made sure the wind wasn’t the only thing blowing hard at CdM. From start to finish, Seminaris was blowing pitches right past hitters, striking out a career-best 14 in his first eight-inning effort.
At one point, the senior bound for Long Beach State retired 14 of the 15 batters he faced from the third to the seventh inning. Everything was working for Seminaris, his fastball, his curveball, his changeup, and the Sea Kings (20-7) lost in the first round for the third straight year.
Only CdM’s first three batters — juniors Preston Hartsell, JT Schwartz and Chazz Martinez — in the lineup got at least one hit off Seminaris, who allowed three earned runs.
“Their top three hitters were probably the best I’ve ever seen,” said Seminaris, who gave up five hits, three to Hartsell, who is committed to USC, and one each to Schwartz, a UCLA commit, and Martinez, a UC Santa Barbara commit.
As for the rest of CdM’s hitters, Seminaris (7-2) dominated them.
The No. 4 through No. 9 hitters went hitless in 17 at-bats against Seminaris, striking out 12 times, and only one got on base. Seminaris walked Garin Friedman in the fifth inning. That walk was Seminaris’ lone one during his 102-pitch outing.
Friedman was also involved on a play that changed a 3-3 game with one out in the top of the eighth.
Tommy Wilcox, who relieved Martinez in the second inning after the left-hander walked five, hit one and gave up three runs, kept the Sea Kings in it. The right-hander had 1-2-3 innings in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh.
And it looked as though Wilcox would be another out away from retiring the side in order in the eighth, until Friedman failed to catch Josh Bozoian’s fly ball in right field. The Sea Kings still had a chance to get Bozoian out, as he stopped in between first and second. The throw to second got there well before Bozoian, and somehow Bozoian shuffled his feet to the right and stepped on the bag to avoid the tag that was waiting for him.
“We gave them a guy in scoring position right off the bat in [extra innings], and you just can’t do that and win,” CdM coach John Emme said.
The Sea Kings were on their way to exiting the first round for the fourth time in six years.
Wilcox gave up his third hit, a single to center and the Bulldogs held the runner at third. Coach Chris Vogt said he didn’t want to have the runner thrown at the plate by Hartsell, who already was having a big game, hitting a solo home run to center field to the game at 3-3 in the third, and leading off the game with a double to right-center field.
The move by Vogt worked out, and Seminaris had something to do with it.
With runners on the corners, Wilcox got Seminaris to hit a grounder to Schwartz at shortstop for a possible 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. The Sea Kings got the out at second, but not at first because Seminaris beat the throw to first. The runner from third scored, and Ayala, a fourth-place team from the Palomares League, took a 4-3 lead on the Pacific Coast League champion Sea Kings.
“I don’t know if he’s ever moved that fast before,” Vogt said of Seminaris.
What happened next eliminated CdM and gave Vogt his 100th win in charge of Ayala. The next five batters — Daniel Ramirez, Dylan Cook, Brennen Carr, Kyle Velazquez and Daniel Mendez — singled.
Cook drove in a run, Velazquez, who hit a solo home run to left in the first inning, drove in two runs, and Mendez drove, giving the Bulldogs a five-run lead. This same team couldn’t score that many runs in its previous two games, in the wild-card round at Villa Park and in regular-season final at West Covina South Hills, ranked No. 16 in the state by CalHiSports.com.
The Bulldogs broke out at the right time. And after they traveled for their first two games in the postseason, the Bulldogs earned the right to play host to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (23-8) in the second round on Tuesday.
CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs
Ayala 8, Corona del Mar 3
SCORE BY INNINGS
Ayala 120 000 05 – 8 10 1
CdM 201 000 00 – 3 5 2
Seminaris and Pappas; Martinez, Wilcox (2), Heckle (8) and M. Thompson. W – Seminaris, 7-2. L – Wilcox, 5-1. 2B – Hartsell (CdM), Martinez (CdM). HR – Velazquez (A), Hartsell (CdM).