Friday’s CIF Southern Section Division 6 quarterfinal playoff game between Costa Mesa High and Moreno Valley’s Vista del Lago was as much of a test for the umpires as it was for the players and fans.
It was well worth it for the host Mustangs.
Costa Mesa is headed to the semifinals for the first time in 57 years after it defeated Vista del Lago 5-3.
The Mustangs (15-11) will host Calvary Murrieta (19-5) in the semifinals on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. Calvary Murrieta advanced with a 33-5 rout of El Monte in the quarterfinals.
Costa Mesa starter Omar Muñoz pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing three unearned runs and six hits. He walked one and struck out six in a no-decision. At the plate, he went two for three with a run batted in and a stolen base.
Cameron Chapman got the win, pitching 1 2/3 innings and allowing no hits, striking out three and walking a batter.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Duke Kirby singled in the game-tying run, and Riley Mitchell singled in two runs, including the go-ahead run. Mitchell felt confident going into his at-bat.
“I didn’t really think about getting the game-winning hit,” he said. “I knew everything was going to fall in because I just trusted my team and God.”
Ravens starter Jamie Covarrubias pitched a complete game, allowing five runs and nine hits while recording one strikeout. Cobe Peckles went two for three.
It was a challenging night for the umpires
They met four times. Once to confirm a dropped fly-ball call that went against the Ravens (12-13), then to reverse a balk call, which sent two Costa Mesa runners back a base.
In the second inning, the home-plate umpire miscounted balls and strikes and wrongly awarded a walk until Ravens coach Jon Chastine protested. Finally, they gave the Ravens the tying run on a bizarre play where Mustangs shortstop David Gonzalez appeared to throw his glove at a ball in play.
The Mustangs took the lead early.
Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the second inning, Mitchell reached base on a bunt single, stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Hall. He then scored on a wild pitch to give the Mustangs a 2-1 lead.
However, with one out in the sixth inning and a runner on first, Ravens hitter Marcos Lopez struck a sinking line drive over Gonzalez. Gonzalez jumped and appeared to throw his glove at the ball, striking it out of mid-air.
The umpires awarded Jonah Vollmer, the runner on second, home plate and the tying run, while giving Lopez third base, because they ruled that Gonzalez intentionally threw his glove at the ball.
Costa Mesa coach Kevin Chavez argued emphatically against the call.
“I asked [Gonzalez], ‘Did you throw it?’ and he told me he didn’t mean to,” Chavez said. “I’m 52, I’ve been around baseball my entire life. That play is never called.”
The Ravens then scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball that scored Lopez.
Luckily for the Mustangs, they came back and are in the semifinals for the first time since 1962. The last time they made it that far the Mustangs won a CIF title.
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ANTHONY CIARDELLI is a contributor to Times Community News.