Estancia baseball blanks rival Costa Mesa, takes back the Paul Troxel trophy

Estancia's James De La O (10) rings the bell with teammate John Uchytil (11) after defeating Costa Mesa.
Estancia’s James De La O (10) rings the bell with teammate John Uchytil (11) after defeating Costa Mesa during the Battle for the Bell baseball game on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Paul Troxel trophy is back on the westside in Costa Mesa.

Junior right-handed pitcher Andrew Mits threw a complete game Friday afternoon as host Estancia baseball blanked rival Costa Mesa, 5-0, in an Orange Coast League showdown.

The win, coupled with the Eagles’ 10-5 victory at Costa Mesa on Tuesday, means that Estancia captures the Battle for the Bell series for the first time since 2019.

The trophy sat at home plate after the game, with Estancia players coming up one-by-one to ring it.

Estancia pitcher Andrew Mits throws in the Battle for the Bell baseball game against Costa Mesa on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“Our league is very highly competitive,” Estancia coach Nate Goellrich said. “To come out and sweep any opponent is huge. Obviously, with it being a city rivalry, that just adds to it for us. I thought Mits did a great job. He was a little overhyped the first couple of innings, but I thought he did a great job settling in to finish it off for us.”

Estancia (14-2), ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division 5, remains in outright first place in league with a 7-1 record. The Eagles have won just two league titles since the league was formed 16 years ago, the last one coming in that same 2019 season.

“The rivalry’s big, it’s always hyped up,” said senior outfielder James De La O, who had a walk, scored a run and added a sacrifice fly. “It’s nice to get the win, but we know we can’t be satisfied with this. We’re not done yet. We’re coming for league.”

A pickoff attempt skips past Estancia shortstop Jake Humphries (4) as Costa Mesa's Aiden Comte slides in safe at second.
A pickoff attempt skips past Estancia shortstop Jake Humphries (4) as Costa Mesa’s Aiden Comte slides in safe at second during Friday’s game.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Mits improved to 6-2 after the shutout win. He allowed three hits, walked three and struck out 10. Still, visiting Costa Mesa (14-3, 4-2), ranked No. 2 in Division 6, actually had the chance to take the lead in the third inning.

Omar Gutierrez led off with an infield single, and Wyatt Rottschafer and Grady Jackson each drew full-count walks to load the bases with one out. Mits got a strikeout for the second out, before his defense backed him up.

Matt Anderson’s hot shot to third was knocked down by Estancia junior Cole Lefebvre, who stepped on the base to get out of the jam.

“Against a guy like Mits, you’re going to get one opportunity, maybe two in a game,” Costa Mesa coach Jim Kiefer said. “We had one, and Matty hits the ball hard and their guy makes a good play and knocks it down. If that ball gets by, it changes the complexion of the game … I’m proud of our guys. We battled today. It’s unfortunate that we came up short, but we played better today than we did on Tuesday. It bodes well for us in the latter part of league.”

Costa Mesa's Wylan Rottschafer, right, nearly picks off Estancia's Cole Lefebvre at second during Friday's game.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Estancia scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth against Mesa sophomore starting pitcher Will Clark, who also threw well. With the bases loaded and two outs, an infield throwing error allowed John Uchytil and De La O to score.

Riley Witte had drawn a full-count walk to keep the rally alive.

The Eagles added three more in the fifth. Lefebvre led off with a double to right, then senior Gabe Avila added a bunt single. Uchytil’s single to right plated one, and Avila scored on a wild pitch. De La O then added his sacrifice fly to increase the hosts’ lead to 5-0.

“From the start, we had to get the energy going,” Mits said. “It was a 0-0 ballgame for a little bit, but once we had that spark, it caught flame and then we just kept going.”

Lefebvre finished two for three for Estancia, as did Uchytil, who had hit a grand slam in Tuesday’s win.

Costa Mesa's Aiden Comte makes a running catch in the outfield during Friday's game.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Caleb Robeck and Aiden Comte also had hits for Costa Mesa.

Estancia doesn’t want to take its foot off the gas, as it plays defending league champion Orange. The home-and-home set begins Tuesday at the Eagles’ field.

“I told them that if we want to be the league champ, we’ve got to beat the league champ,” Goellrich said. “We’ve got to come out next week ready to go, and they’re going to come gunning for us. We were the only team to beat them last year in league, we swept them. I expect that to be a highly competitive series that we’ve got to be ready for.”

Costa Mesa plays a trio of nonleague games next week, starting with Laguna Hills at home on Tuesday.


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