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Adam Axtell strikes out 15 as Calvary Chapel moves into third-place tie with Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa High's baseball team went into Tuesday tied for second place in the Orange Coast League with archrival Estancia.

The Mustangs are still even with the Eagles, the Eagles from Calvary Chapel.

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Adam Axtell struck out 15 and walked none in his five-hit shutout for host Calvary Chapel, which moved into a third-place tie after beating Costa Mesa 6-0 at TeWinkle Park.

Axtell fooled batters with his off-speed pitches, at one point striking out eight in a row.

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Calvary Chapel and Costa Mesa are both 6-4 in league, a game back of second-place Estancia, which improved to 7-3 after beating Saddleback 9-3 on Tuesday. Laguna Beach is in first at 10-0.

Five games remain in league, and only the top three teams are guaranteed berths into the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

Axtell didn't need much help offensively, but the sophomore got more than enough in the bottom of the third inning.

Calvary Chapel scored five runs in the third as it capitalized on three errors by the Mustangs. Charlie Pierce singled in two runs and Darren Johnson singled in a run. They each went two for three.

"I kind of was already in the zone," Axtell said. "I was locked in going from the start. My catcher Isaiah Lee was phenomenal, calling all my pitches. Everything was great and it all came together."

Costa Mesa's James Welsher started the game by flying out, and then Axtell struck out the next eight batters.

In Welsher's second at-bat, coming in the fourth inning, the sophomore got Costa Mesa's first hit off Axtell. He singled to left, the first of two hits by Welsher.

"Adam got us going," said Calvary Chapel coach Clayton Voechting, whose team has won three in a row in league. "He was throwing strikes and dicing guys up. We finally got our bats going and that always helps, but it was Adam leading the way."

Riley Mitchell was the only Costa Mesa hitter to collect an extra-base hit, leading off the sixth with a double. But he tried to stretch it into a triple and was tagged out.

Costa Mesa's Skylar Manning threw six innings, striking out four while giving up nine hits, one earned run and one walk.

The Mustangs will host Calvary Chapel in a battle for third place on Friday at 3:15 p.m. They have lost five in a row, four of those setbacks came during the Newport Rib Co. Tournament.

"We had a rough [third] inning defensively," said Costa Mesa coach Don Welsher, in his first year in charge of the Mustangs. "No runs should have crossed the plate in that inning. Three errors to start off that inning and that was the key."

MANNY ALVAREZ is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @MAlvarez02

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