COSTA MESA — Five seniors walked behind home plate at Estancia High Thursday with their parents at their side. Each beamed when Coach Matt Sorensen announced their names and the names of their parents.
The sixth senior taking the same path onto the field before the Orange Coast League finale cracked a smile.
Andres Gonzalez wasn't with his parents, though.
Ruben and Ana Maria Gonzalez couldn't make their son's senior day. Andres understood why they weren't there to watch him play against Calvary Chapel. Mom and dad live in Ensenada, Mexico.
"They can't see me play because they work," said Gonzalez, adding he lives in Costa Mesa with friends of his parents. "Work comes first."
Gonzalez didn't feel alone.
Boys' basketball coach Agustin Heredia and his wife, Kimberly, escorted Gonzalez, during the pre-game ceremony. Gonzalez was around the people he's called family the past two seasons, teammates and coaches.
They took care of Gonzalez, making him feel at home. Gonzalez paid them back in a big way Thursday.
Gonzalez drove in Alex Trancoso for the game's lone run as Estancia claimed its first league title since the early 1990s after beating Calvary Chapel, 1-0.
Gonzalez was one of the first players to race toward the mound to celebrate after starter Marc DeFrenza and reliever Ryan Boselo combined to shut out Calvary Chapel for the second time in three days. Gonzalez and 17 teenagers piled on top of each other.
The pileup happened more than once after Estancia (17-10, 9-3 in league) learned it won the league outright with defending champion Costa Mesa losing at Laguna Beach, 6-0. The crosstown rivals entered Thursday tied for first in league.
At the bottom of the stacked bodies was Sorensen and assistant coach Brandon Thompson. In Sorensen's third season at the helm, he turned Estancia into a champion.
Gonzalez gave Sorensen his reward. Gonzalez, with the help of Roy Smith, doused Sorensen with the Gatorade bucket.
"I'm happy that it happened to him because he's a really good kid," Sorensen said of Gonzalez coming through with the big hit in the bottom of the first inning with two outs. "That wasn't one of his hardest hits of the season, but it was one of the biggest.
"He's been working really hard. He struggled with his stick a little bit early on in the season. He turned it around. He made a lot of adjustments."
Gonzalez can thank Thompson for staying after practice to work on his swing. Thompson never says no to anyone wanting to improve.
One of those players was DeFrenza.
The right-hander pitched brilliantly, allowing three hits and striking out three in 6 1/3 innings to improve to 9-3. Twice the senior picked off runners, one at second in the third inning and another on first in the sixth.
The first pickoff move duped not only Calvary Chapel (15-12, 6-6), but a police officer watching the game. The trick play is "The Grand Illusion" and DeFrenza and the infield pulled it off to perfection.
With the runner leaning off second base, DeFrenza stepped off the rubber and faked the throw to the bag. Shortstop Tyler Rios leaped as though DeFrenza's throw went over his head and toward center.
The runner took off for third, and DeFrenza, with the ball, chased him down, catching him between third and second for the third out of the inning. Calvary Chapel Coach Doug Adams couldn't believe his player failed to pick up the ball or the third-base coach.
"We knew that play was in their repertoire," Adams said.
The play worked in favor of Estancia for the first time this season.
The timing hurt Calvary Chapel as it finishes in a two-way tie for third place with Laguna Beach. Three teams in league receive automatic berths into next week's CIF Southern Section playoffs.
Estancia is in the postseason for the first time since 1994. Calvary Chapel didn't help its cause to return to the playoffs, failing to take advantage of its pitchers giving up just two hits. Calvary Chapel also stranded runners on second base three times.
In the fifth and sixth innings, Calvary Chapel saw its leadoff batter get on. It didn't faze DeFrenza.
With a runner on second and one out, DeFrenza mowed down a batter and then induced a grounder to get out of the fifth unscathed. The following inning, DeFrenza let the leadoff man on.
After a couple of pitches, DeFrenza got the runner out with the help of Gonzalez at first base. The left-handed Gonzalez watched the runner giveaway his intention, hands moving toward second.
DeFrenza easily caught on and picked the runner off. Estancia was five outs to closing out the league crown.
DeFrenza recorded the next three outs and exited in the seventh after only throwing 63 pitches.
Boselo relieved DeFrenza. When Boselo got the final two outs, Sorensen breathed a sigh of relief.
"It really did feel just like the rest of [the wins this season]," said Sorensen before realizing the magnitude of the victory.
Gonzalez reminded Sorensen.
"The school had gone 19 years without a title," Gonzalez said. "I'm fortunate to be a part of it."
Orange Coast League Estancia 1, Calvary Chapel 0 SCORE BY INNINGS
Calvary0000000 — 031Estancia
100000x — 120Wallach, McDaniel (2) and McLuckey; DeFrenza, Boselo (7) and Dominguez. W – DeFrenza, 9-3. L – Wallach. 2B – Wallach (CC).
Orange Coast League Calvary Chapel…0Estancia…1