Matt Aidem of Valencia, batting .606, and Jeff Flaig of Placentia El Dorado, batting .593, were the focus of much attention Tuesday during a Southern Section Division II second-round playoff game at Valencia. The coaches for both teams were adamant about not letting either one beat them, leaving the opportunity for someone else to step forward and become the hero.
Jared Clark, hitting behind Aidem in the batting order, came through with two home runs, including a grand slam, to help Valencia (22-6) pull out a 6-4 victory in a battle of teams ranked in the top 25 by The Times.
Clark hit a first-inning solo home run, then struck out with the bases loaded in the second. He hit his grand slam in the fourth to wipe out a 2-1 deficit for the No. 13 Vikings. Aidem (10-1) pitched into the seventh to get the victory, but he went hitless for the first time in 28 games.
Garrett Rieck picked up his sixth save with exceptional pitching in the seventh. He came in with none out and runners on first and second. After a sacrifice, he struck out Chris Wessel and got Chris Cardinale to ground out. Standing in the on-deck circle was Flaig, who had singled, flied out and walked.
“I didn’t want to face that kid, the best hitter in Orange County and maybe Southern California,” Rieck said.
El Dorado (21-7), ranked No. 9, closed to within 6-4 in the sixth on a two-run home run by Frank Lonigro. Richard Cadana had three singles for Valencia, the Foothill League champion. The Vikings will travel to play Corona Centennial, which upset top-seeded Quartz Hill, 11-9.
-- Eric Sondheimer
Lakewood 4, Moreno Valley Valley View 3 -- A reversal of a called third strike on a foul tip helped Lakewood to the victory in a Division I second-round game played under protest at Lakewood.
With the score tied, 3-3, in the fifth inning, home plate umpire Mike Sprague ruled that Valley View catcher Dale Solomon caught a foul tip off Alijay Davis’ bat for a third strike. Solomon then picked off Daniel Luyben at first base.
Lakewood Coach Spud O’Neil appealed and third base umpire Randy Cross ruled the foul tip hit the dirt, negating the pickoff.
Davis proceeded to strike out, as did Allen Woods, but Mike Carp kept the inning alive by singling to center. Justin Wheeler doubled in Luyben with the go-ahead run.
Valley View (20-8) played the game under protest, with Coach Matt Davis claiming Lakewood (25-7), last season’s runner-up, conducted batting practice in the outfield before the game in violation of section rules. O’Neil said his team was playing pepper.
If the protest is denied, Lakewood will play a quarterfinal Friday against Anaheim Servite, which upset top-seeded Huntington Beach Edison, 3-2.
-- Steven Herbert
Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley 15, Crescenta Valley 3 -- Jason Corder drove in four runs, including a three-run home run that traveled an estimated 400 feet, and the Cougars had 21 hits in a Division I second-round playoff game at Stengel Field in Glendale. Corder also had a double and run-scoring single for the No. 5 Cougars (21-3), who have scored 29 runs in two playoff games.
“We’re swinging it pretty good,” Coach Bob Zamora said. “But any good pitcher could put a stop to that.”
Capistrano Valley will play host to Santa Margarita, a 6-3 winner over San Bernardino San Gorgonio. The Cougars could face Jared Hughes, one of the top pitchers in the Southland.
Crescenta Valley (21-6), ranked No. 24, scored twice in the third inning to pull within 6-3 but could get no closer.
-- Mike Bresnahan