Mission Viejo Has Experience to Win Tournament Title

Times Staff Writer

Familiar names brought a familiar result for Mission Viejo High School’s baseball team Wednesday in the championship game of the Santa Ana Elks baseball tournament at Rancho Santiago College.

Mission Viejo, led by a pair of veteran players, defeated Ocean View, 5-3, for its fourth consecutive Santa Ana tournament title.

Eric Ekdahl, a mainstay at shortstop for three seasons, led a nine-hit attack for Mission Viejo with two singles and a two-run homer.

Troy Kopp, a three-year starter as a pitcher and infielder, delivered a strong performance on the mound for Mission Viejo.


In an unusual twist, Kopp (3-1) picked up the victory and the save. He pitched 4 1/3 innings, was replaced by Eric Cedarstaff, then came back in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on base to get the final three outs.

Add a three-for-four day by first baseman Don Disbro and Mission Viejo (7-2) was unbeatable.

Even Ocean View (9-3), which came into the championship game riding a hot streak after beating El Dorado, 7-1, in the semifinals Tuesday, could not stop the Diablos.

“Things had been going our way lately, but it finally caught up with us today,” Ocean View Coach Steve Barrett said. “They beat us in every phase of the game.”


It started with a rocky first inning for Eric Schaff, Ocean View’s starting pitcher, and ended with a key double play by Mission Viejo in the seventh when the Seahawks looked as if they might rally.

With two outs in the first inning, a walk, a balk and a dropped fly ball led to a 1-0 lead for Mission Viejo and to Schaff’s early exit. Mike Karpel replaced Schaff and got the third out of the inning, but Mission Viejo got to him in the second.

Ekdahl increased the Diablos’ lead to 3-0 with a two-run homer to left field. It was his second of the tournament.

“He’s playing with great confidence,” Mission Viejo Coach Ron Drake said. “He’s full of fire and vigor right now.”

Catcher Cory Colbert got one of Ocean View’s four hits with a solo home run to left in the second.

Mission Viejo added two more runs in the fourth. With two outs, Ekdahl singled, stole second and scored on a double by Lance Sabella. After Kopp was walked intentionally, Disbro singled him home for a 5-1 lead.

Ocean View threatened in its half of the fourth, but Kopp got out of the inning after allowing one run. He gave up another in the fifth, but Cedarstaff shut down the Seahawks until the seventh.

After Cedarstaff walked Gilbert Gonzales to open the seventh, Drake brought Kopp back from second base, where he had been playing, to finish the game.


Kopp got Steve Hernandez to hit a grounder to Ekdahl, who fielded it, stepped on second and threw Hernandez out at first for a double play. Daniel Hernandez grounded out to end the game.

In other Santa Ana Elks tournament games:

El Dorado 5, Diamond Bar 4--Crosby Spencer singled in Dave Swearingen from third base in the sixth inning and El Dorado went on to the third-place victory. Winning pitcher Matt Luke improved his record to 4-0 with a complete-game performance. Luke gave up eight hits. Travis Dowdell was two for three with a double and an RBI and Phil Nevin was two for four with a double, triple and an RBI for El Dorado (9-3).

Laguna Hills 6, Los Alamitos 3--Chris Sheff had two hits, including a solo home run, for the Hawks (7-3) in the consolation final at Tustin High School. Joe Bennett had two hits and an RBI for Laguna Hills. Brian Kessler (1-0) pitched three innings in relief for the victory.

Villa Park 7, Santa Ana 6--Danny Alleman drove in two runs with a bases-loaded double with two outs in the bottom of the seventh for Villa Park (5-6).

Foothill 10, Pacifica 5--Corey Parker went three for four to lead Foothill to the seventh-place victory. Bob Valenta and Scott Barton each went two for three and Kent Donnelly added a two-run homer for the Knights (7-4).

Saddleback 5, Tustin 3--Jeff Blanco had three RBIs and Michael Arroyos two for Saddleback (5-6) in a consolation-round game at Tustin. Blanco tied the score, 2-2, in the fourth with a two-run homer. Arroyos and Blanco put the Roadrunners ahead, 5-3, in the seventh with RBI singles.