Lance Sabella doubled home three runs in the fourth inning Friday as Mission Viejo High School defeated Irvine, 4-3, in a South Coast League baseball game at Irvine.
Mission Viejo (15-5 overall, 8-3 in league play) is in first place in the league, one-game ahead of Capistrano Valley with four games to play.
Irvine (10-11, 5-6), which trailed, 4-0, after Sabella's double, scored three sixth-inning runs, two on Bowen Ota's bases-loaded single.
Troy Kopp, who relieved starter Eric Cedarstaff (6-0) with one out in the sixth inning, gave up a single to Scott Vollmer to start the Irvine seventh. After Kopp struck out Scott Brandino, Vollmer was called out when the next batter, Kevin Obergfell, interfered with Diablo catcher Jeff Clark while Vollmer was attempting to steal second.
Obergfell then popped out to short to end the game.
"Rules are rules, and the rules say that when a batter interferes with a catcher who is attempting to throw out a runner with less than two out, the runner is out," said Mission Viejo Coach Ron Drake. "There was no other way they could have called it.
"It wasn't a cleanly played ballgame, but we played hard, and I'm happy to be in the position we are in the standings."
Irvine starter John Bretza (2-5), who allowed five hits through six innings, was victimized by his defense in the third inning as Mission Viejo took advantage of three errors to load the bases with none out. Bretza, who finished the game with four walks, walked Jeff Hawkins to give Mission Viejo a 1-0 lead.
"Those errors really hurt us," said Irvine Coach Bob Flint."
Jon Hayes, who led off the Diablo fourth with a walk, was doubled to third by Eric Ekdahl. After Kopp, who started the game at second base, was intentionally passed to load the bases, Bretza retired Don Diabro on an infield grounder.
Sabella then lined a full-count fastball into the right-center field gap to score all three runners.
"Lance's double was definitely the big hit for us," Drake said. "Lance has been a clutch hitter for us all season, and he's been getting a lot of his big hits with two outs."
Cedarstaff, who pitched out of a bases-loaded, two-out situation in the second when he struck out Ota, found himself in another sticky situation in the fourth. Mike Booker, who singled with one out, went to second on an infield out and to third when Diablo first baseman Hawkins dropped Cedarstaff's throw after Cedarstaff fielded Ota's soft grounder.
Cedarstaff, however, ended the threat by striking out Randy Martin on three pitches.
Dana Hills 3, Capistrano Valley 2 (8 innings)--Mike Robertson doubled to lead off the eighth, then with two outs, scored on a throwing error on a ground ball hit by Jay Johnson for visiting Dana Hills (8-13-1, 4-7). Mike Kislig (3-5) pitched the final 4 2/3 innings for the victory.
San Clemente 9, El Toro 6--San Clemente sent 11 batters to the plate in a seven-run fourth inning at home. San Clemente (5-15, 4-7) had 12 hits, six in the fourth. Rick Brial had three hits and two RBIs, and Shane Coff and Drew Anawalt each had two hits. Coff stole his 10th base. Sophomore Darin Albin (2-5) struck out seven.