Rancho Santiago's 9-1 victory over visiting Palomar in the Southern California baseball playoffs Sunday was doubly important to the Dons.
First, it means that Rancho Santiago advances to the next round, and secondly, the Dons will play host to a four-team regional. The Dons (34-8) play Cypress and Riverside plays Chaffey Friday.
The chance to stay home was important to Rancho Santiago Coach Don Sneddon. Despite winning the last four Orange Empire Conference titles, this is the first time in that span that they will have played host to a regional.
"Finally," Sneddon said. "We get to be at home after a long wait. I'm really looking forward to it."
Darren Troilo's two-out, fly-ball single to right in the eighth scored Matt Kastelic to break the 1-1 tie for Rancho Santiago. Kastelic had doubled.
Steve Thobe started the seven-run ninth with a walk and later scored on a balk. Another run scored on a wild pitch.
Also in the inning: Ryan Andersen had a two-run double, Troilo had a run-batted-in double, and Tony Truel and Derek Brown had RBI singles.
Jason Dietrich allowed a run, two hits, and had 10 strikeouts in the first 6 2/3 innings but left because of blister with the bases loaded. Jason Hanmer (2-1) came on to get the final out of the inning and the victory.
Thobe worked the final two innings for his 10th save.
In other playoff games:
Cypress 7-10, Mt. San Antonio 6-6--Visiting Cypress (29-16) advanced by sweeping. Kevin Clark had four hits and scored three runs, Greg Tippin had two hits, scored two runs and drove in two more and Ryan Hamilton had three hits and three RBIs in the second game.
Mark Kaiser, who had pitched 12 2/3 innings this season coming into the game, worked the final five for the victory.
Clark had a three-run home run (his 10th) and a two-run single in the first game for Cypress.
San Diego Mesa 6, Saddleback 4 (13 innings)--Two Saddleback errors helped San Diego Mesa score two runs in the 13th inning. Saddleback (31-14) had lost earlier, 4-2. Justin Drizos had three hits in the two games to set a Saddleback single-season record for hits with 64. Teammate Neil Garica ended his season with 62.