The Costa Mesa High baseball team is sure making the most of its first playoff appearance in 10 years.
The Mustangs took care of business again with a 10-1 upset victory at top-seeded Claremont Webb in a CIF Southern Section Division 6 second-round game on Tuesday.
Costa Mesa (14-11) advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001. The Mustangs will host Moreno Valley Vista del Lago (12-12) on Friday at 3:15 p.m. Vista del Lago, which shared second place in the Mountain Valley League, blanked Victorville Excelsior 6-0 in the second round.
“The guys are catching on fire right now,” first-year Costa Mesa coach Kevin Chavez said. “We knew back in September we could really make a run. We have a lot of seniors and older, experienced guys.”
The Mustangs, who finished third in the Orange Coast League, broke the game wide open in the fourth inning.
Kyle Anderson and Duke Kirby both reached base with singles with no outs. Riley Mitchell’s sacrifice bunt attempt plated Anderson after Webb pitcher Eric Evans threw wildly to first base trying to get Mitchell out.
Chris Hall followed with an RBI single and leadoff hitter Miguel Rodriguez’s RBI sacrifice fly scored Mitchell.
The inning looked to be over when Costa Mesa starting pitcher Cameron Chapman hit a grounder to second base. However, another error allowed Chapman to reach base loading the bases and setting up Omar Muñoz for some sweet revenge.
I feel like we are the best team in the division now. We thought that before and now we beat the No. 1 team. I think we are that team now.
An inning earlier, Muñoz was robbed of a home run by Webb center fielder J.J. Cunningham. But not this time. Muñoz crushed an Evans offering over the fence in left and his grand slam gave the Mustangs a 7-0 lead.
“That was crazy right there,” Muñoz said. “The game can change very quickly. I didn’t try to do much. I was just trying to make good contact and hit a line drive. Coach told me to just try and hit a line drive. Get the next guy up.”
Chapman sailed from there. The efficient right-hander went six innings, only throwing 55 pitches through the first five innings. Muñoz finished up on the mound in the seventh to close the game.
Chapman’s performance came on the heels of last Thursday’s 5 2/3-inning effort. He struck out nine in a 6-2 first-round win at West Hills de Toledo.
“The coaches have confidence in me,” Chapman said. “I am throwing strikes and executing what the coaches are calling for me. My defense has my back. It’s exciting for sure.”
Chavez has been impressed, too.
“Cameron has taken control on the mound,” Chavez said. “He’s really put us on his back. He’s in complete control right now. He’s accepting his role as a leader.”
Costa Mesa has now won four games in a row after a late-season six-game skid. Academy League champion Webb (16-5), making its first playoff appearance since 2016, had scored in double figures during its last seven victories.
The Mustangs now seem to be in pretty good position to make a championship run.
“We saw the potential of this group early in the season,” Chavez said. “Our record isn’t the greatest in the world, but we are playing well when it counts. We had trouble getting over the hump in the regular season. We like where we are right now.”
Muñoz added: “I feel like we are the best team in the division now. We thought that before and now we beat the No. 1 team. I think we are that team now.”
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JACK POLLON is a contributor to Times Community News.