The Costa Mesa High baseball team has had a historical season this year and it continued Tuesday.
The Mustangs received another stellar pitching performance from Cameron Chapman and some timely hitting from several players to come away with a 6-0 victory against Calvary Murrieta in a CIF Southern Section Division 6 semifinal playoff game at home.
Not only did Costa Mesa (16-11) advance to Saturday’s championship game against Arcadia Rio Hondo Prep (17-7) at UC Riverside, the Mustangs are in the final for the first time since 1962. That’s 57 years.
“It’s been a long time coming,” first-year Costa Mesa coach Kevin Chavez said. “I really don’t know what else to say. It’s great for everybody. It’s great for the team, the players, the coaches, the school, the community.”
Chapman delivered on the mound. The senior right-hander threw a four-hitter with seven strikeouts.
“This is crazy,” Chapman said. “This team is really representing Costa Mesa well. I am very proud of every player on the team. Every player is stepping up right now. We had a good game plan going in. We knew they could swing it well. They had put up a lot of runs this year. My command was good all day until the last inning. No walks in the first six innings. I let them put the ball in play and my defense backed me up. I trust my defense.”
Cameron has each of the Mustangs’ four playoff wins, three as a starter and one in relief.
Chavez continues to be impressed.
“Cameron’s performance was unbelievable,” Chavez said of his latest outing. “He was throwing extremely hard. He was throwing his curveball for strikes. When he has the hard stuff and the offspeed stuff going, well, it’s hard to hit him. He put us on his back.”
The game was tight through three innings. There was no score and Costa Mesa had left three runners on base. The Mustangs missed a few opportunities.
Costa Mesa didn’t miss in the bottom of the fourth.
Tyler Corkhill came through with a run-scoring single. That broke the ice, giving Costa Mesa the only run it would need.
“That was amazing right there,” Corkhill said. “I hadn’t had a hit in a while. That one felt good. It woke up the team. It really got the team going. I was just thinking get a base hit. Just get the guy from second to home. Riley Mitchell came in to score. I know Riley is fast.”
Costa Mesa broke the game open in the fifth with five runs. Duke Kirby had a run-scoring double and Mitchell plated two runs with a single. Costa Mesa would score two more runs on an errant pickoff.
Calvary Murrieta had scored 33 runs in its quarterfinal victory against El Monte.
Nothing like that materialized Tuesday.
“I scoured MaxPreps and GameChanger for anything I could find about [the Warriors],” said Chavez, referring to the two websites. “We saw the scores but still felt real good about our chances. Chapman and Omar Muñoz … are another level for pitching in our division.”
Chapman encountered a close call in the third. Calvary Murrieta had runners at first and third with no outs. Chapman struck out the next batter and got an inning-ending double play with the help of catcher Miguel Rodriguez. Crisis averted.
“I knew I had to keep my cool in that situation,” Chapman said. “It was big. It was huge. It gave us more confidence the rest of the game.”
Chapman said he also felt good with a six-run lead, instead of just the one run going into the last two innings.
“It’s easy to let up with the big lead,” Chapman said. “I had to keep my tempo and still get after it. Make sure to throw strikes. Make sure to keep doing what I was doing until that point. No need to take too many chances.”
The Mustangs are hoping for another two-win week come Saturday, when they can claim their second CIF title in program history. Costa Mesa, in its second year playing baseball, won the crown in 1962 with a 5-3 win over San Marino.
Rio Hondo Prep knocked off Long Beach St. Anthony 8-5 in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
“We want to win the whole thing now, but today was great at home,” Chavez said. “The atmosphere was phenomenal. The stands were full. It was packed from dugout to dugout. It was an intense game.”
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