Going into Tuesday’s Battle for the Bell rivalry game, Estancia High had beaten Costa Mesa twice this year, yet the Eagles trailed the Mustangs by two games in the Orange Coast League baseball standings.
Jake Covey got the Eagles closer to first-place Costa Mesa.
The junior right-hander threw a three-hit shutout and struck out nine in Estancia’s 5-0 win at Costa Mesa, allowing the Eagles to win the Paul Troxel trophy.
Junior Garrett Palme hit a two-run home run and a two-run double for Estancia (11-10, 6-4 in league), which moved into a tie for second place with Orange. The Mustangs (10-7, 7-3) are a game ahead with five to go in the league.
The Eagles can sweep the four-game series against Costa Mesa on Wednesday, when they host the game at 3:30 p.m. One of Estancia’s three victories over the Mustangs came in a 4-3 walk-off nonleague win at Angel Stadium on March 20.
Mustangs senior Cameron Chapman went 6 2/3 innings on Tuesday, striking out six while surrendering eight hits and four earned runs. Chapman, Nolan Churan and Riley Mitchell had Costa Mesa’s only hits.
Covey complimented his team’s defensive performance, which included a triple play that ended a first-and-second, no-out threat in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“That one inning with the triple play, they had all of the momentum there,” Covey said. “You get a feeling in a game when you know someone is going to score a run and that really killed it right there.”
With runners on first and second base and no outs, Kirby hit a twisting fly ball that Eagles second baseman Nick Peralez caught on the run. Peralez then threw to first to double up Chapman. Churan, who had made it to third, could not get back to second base before he was forced out to complete the triple play and end the inning.
Estancia started the scoring in the third.
With runners on first and third and one out, Hayden Pearce hit a routine grounder that eluded Mustangs shortstop Duke Kirby, and Josh Caldales scored.
After Pearce and Dillon Manchester advanced to second and third on a passed-ball strikeout, Palme drove them both home with a two-out double down the right-field line. That staked the Eagles to a 3-0 lead.
Covey, who walked two, silenced the Mustangs’ bats until the sixth inning. Churan singled up the middle and advanced on a scalding groundball by Chapman that Eagles third baseman Matt Kehoe stabbed on a dive but threw into right field trying to make the force out at second.
In spite of some sloppy play, Mustangs coach Kevin Chavez focused on his team’s lack of offense.
“We had three hits,” he said. “Covey did a good job and threw a good game, but he beat us with fastballs. That’s all it was. We’re not going to win any games with three hits.”
With the Eagles leading 3-0, Palme added to his big day, driving a two-run homer over the right-field wall to give Estancia a 5-0 lead.
“I was definitely looking for a fastball early in the count, and I got a meatball inside,” Palme said. “It felt good to get a home run finally.”
Chapman said he and his teammates, who will get another shot at Estancia on Wednesday, need to focus on the fundamentals.