The Orange Coast League baseball standings are chaotic heading into the final week of the regular season.
Estancia missed a chance to stay alone on top Friday.
The Eagles lost 11-9 at Santa Ana, falling into a four-way tie for first place in league with two games remaining.
Estancia, Santa Ana, Orange and Calvary Chapel are all tied for first place in league with 8-5 marks. Costa Mesa is a game back at 7-6.
The advantage for Estancia, which is 13-11 overall, is that the Eagles play last-place Saddleback (0-13 in league) twice next week. Two wins, and Estancia can clinch at least a share of its first league title since 2010.
Orange plays Santa Ana next week, while Costa Mesa takes on Calvary Chapel.
“We’re not going to take any games off,” Estancia coach Kevin Conlin said. “We’ll see what happens.”
What happened Friday was that Santa Ana (13-9) took the lead after scoring six runs in the bottom of the third inning. Julian Gomez capped it off with a grand slam to left field.
Josue Sanchez, a senior who hit a two-run home run in the first inning, was another key contributor for the Saints. He added two doubles.
“He threw a fastball high and in, and I went for it,” Sanchez said of his first-inning homer, his second of the season. “We didn’t try to go for the fences. We stayed short, up the middle, working our [opposite- field] approach. That’s what helped us, not trying to do too much.”
Estancia played the game under protest after a controversial call in the top of the fifth inning. Josh Caldales led off with a walk for Estancia, and an out later, he was apparently driven home on a double by Hayden Pearce.
The umpire, however, had called a balk on Sanchez before he threw the pitch. Pearce’s hit was disallowed and Caldales was awarded second base, though Conlin argued that play should have continued.
Estancia trailed 11-7 at the time. Pierce ended up striking out and the Eagles would score no runs that inning.
“I thought it was college rules,” Conlin said. “Usually you play it out. I protested the game … we’ll see. I think the athletic directors [review it]. That’s my first [protest] of my career, so we’ll see.”
Garrett Palme, who was three for four with a triple and two RBIs, led off the top of the sixth with a single to right for Estancia, and Justin Wood followed with a single to center.
Troy Huber’s double to right scored one, and a sacrifice fly by Nick Peralez brought home another run. But the rally would end there, and Sanchez would set the Eagles down one-two-three in the top of the seventh to end it.
Wood finished two for three with a double for Estancia, while Peralez was also two for three with two RBIs.
The league title race is going to come down to the last game, and that’s OK with first-year Santa Ana coach David Silva.
“It’s competitive, and that’s what you want,” Silva said. “As a head coach, that’s what you want to work for. That’s what I keep telling the kids, they’ve got to believe in the work we’ve put in.”