An innocent enough moment occurred in the seventh inning of Saturday’s nonleague baseball game between host Corona del Mar High and Costa Mesa.
CdM catcher Anthony DiFerdinando appealed to the home-plate umpire, questioning if Costa Mesa’s Duke Kirby had left third base early following a tag-up.
Corona del Mar had the game in hand, up big. Cries of “No!” could be heard from the CdM dugout, not wanting an appeal to be seen as bad sportsmanship.
The home-plate umpire took it in stride, saying that DiFerdinando was fine to ask but that Kirby in fact had not left early.
“The umpire handled it well,” CdM coach Kevin McCaffrey said. “It was fine. The kids are still playing, and that’s a good thing.”
The bats were working, and that’s also a good thing for the Sea Kings, who earned the 12-3 victory despite playing their first game in 10 days due to spring break.
Senior first baseman Luc Stuka hit a three-run home run, his fifth of the season, for CdM (15-7-1). He also had a double and finished three for four with four runs batted in.
Senior shortstop Reece Berger also had a double and reached base four times, with two walks. Sophomore Nico DiFerdinando also reached base four times, also with two walks, as well as a double for the Sea Kings.
Costa Mesa pitchers walked nine CdM batters, and two reached after they were hit by a pitch. CdM scored five runs in the second inning and three more in the third. Stuka’s fifth home run of the season came in the second, to right field, giving the hosts a 5-1 advantage.
“I was happy we were getting runs across,” Stuka said. “We were down going into the inning … just trying to help out any way I can.”
Costa Mesa (9-9) had scored the game’s first run in the top of the second inning, when Kyle Anderson led off with an infield single and was brought home by Riley Mitchell’s RBI groundout.
“We took advantage of base on balls and hit by pitches,” McCaffrey said. “We executed on the free passes that we got, and I thought our pitchers did really well. All three guys threw strikes, and that’s a big thing for us, for those guys to go out and have great outings.”
Right-handed pitchers Brenden Morris and Ryan Borquez combined to throw the first five innings, each allowing an unearned run. Junior left-hander Matt Wilks pitched the final two innings for the Sea Kings.
Kirby was three for three for the Mustangs, who had the first three batters in their lineup go hitless in 10 combined at-bats. Tyler Corkhill had a run-scoring single as well as a sacrifice fly, while Jacob Abundis contributed a pinch-hit single.
Costa Mesa’s Joseph Regalado was robbed of a hit in the fourth by Berger at shortstop.
Both teams resume play next week with key games. CdM plays at rival Newport Harbor in a Wave League game on Tuesday. With four league games remaining, the Sea Kings and Sailors are tied for third at 2-3 in league, a game back of both Marina and Laguna Beach.
Newport Harbor won the teams’ first league meeting, 12-3. Stuka said the Sea Kings plan to start their ace, senior Tommy Wilcox, at pitcher on Tuesday.
“Hopefully it will be low-scoring for them, and we can produce more than we did last time,” Stuka said. “I’m excited … If we win out, we’ve got a good shot [to win league].”