From the moment the Southern Section Division 1 playoff pairings came out and the powers to be put together a wild-card game matching 2013 champion Harvard-Westlake against three-time champion Mater Dei, the forecast for a playoff classic was inevitable.
And both teams delivered on Tuesday, with Harvard-Westlake pulling out an 11-10 victory when Ezra Steinberg contributed an RBI single in the top of the seventh and Gabe Golob got the final out on a soft line drive with the tying run on third base.
"Getting three outs today at this ballpark was real hard," Harvard-Westlake Coach Matt LaCour said.
The first inning provided a sneak peek of what was to come. Harvard-Westlake scored five runs, highlighted by a two-run double from Cameron Deere. Then Mater Dei scored five runs, getting a three-run home run from Brandon Perez and a two-run home run from freshman Grant Burton.
There were four home runs and 29 hits in the game. Deere had a two-run home and Josh Stephen added a home run for Mater Dei. Golob replaced Deere on the mound in the fourth and didn't allow any earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, striking out four. He made some huge pitches, including a strikeout of Stephen with the bases loaded in the sixth. Two errors in the sixth helped Mater Dei score three runs to tie the game, 10-10. Brendan Hamilton's RBI single produced the deadlock.
Then Chase Aldridge led off the seventh with a walk off Nick Pratto, Mater Dei's ace who had been sidelined since March after recovering from a back injury. After a sacrifice and fly out, Steinberg came through with his RBI single.
Harvard-Westlake improved to 16-0 in nonleague games. The Wolverines (23-5) were the fourth-place team from the Mission League and struggled putting together consecutive wins in league play. Now they'll have to face Vista Murrieta on the road on Thursday.
"After the first inning when they scored five runs, I knew it was going to be a dogfight," Steinberg said. "And to be honest, our program is ready for dogfights. We always say let's win in the seventh inning on the road."
Jackson Grayson had two doubles and a single for Harvard-Westlake. Perez had a home run, double and two singles for Mater Dei.