The Corona del Mar High baseball team gave itself every chance to win its opener in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs on Friday.
In a game that ended just shy of the four-hour mark, the Sea Kings had at least one runner reach base in each of the final seven innings.
So it stung for CdM when the game reached its conclusion.
Caleb Martin drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 13th inning, giving host Villa Park a 2-1 walk-off victory as the sun prepared to set beyond the left-field fence.
Villa Park (15-14) will be at Temecula Valley (17-14) in the second round on Tuesday. The Golden Bears upset No. 2-seeded San Dimas 5-1 in their first-round game.
A big crowd showed up and filled in the space between both dugouts, making it a fun environment for the players to compete.
“Super fun environment,” said Matt DeCrona, who had three hits and two walks out of the leadoff spot for CdM. “Lots of fans. Fun to play for them. Obviously, we’re disappointed that we didn’t give them a win.”
Alex Pimentel, the leadoff hitter for the Spartans, scored both runs for Villa Park. He was hit by a pitch and came in to score on a groundout by Aaron Perez in the first inning.
Pimentel went hitless with three strikeouts in four at-bats after that. Then he led off the bottom of the 13th with a drag bunt for a single that put the pressure right back on CdM (18-9-1).
“I had tried everything previously,” Pimentel said. “Nothing was working out, so I saw the third baseman playing back, and I decided to lay down a drag bunt on my own. It got the job done.”
Pimentel stole second base, and he advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Connor Baranek. The Sea Kings then opted to load the bases with back-to-back intentional walks to Perez and Logan Abbey.
Martin came up next, and he threw up his hands in celebration after his walk against Tanner Ivey ended what had been a tightrope affair.
Villa Park had loaded the bases in the 12th, too, but Ryan Borquez was able to work out of the jam by getting Ryan Etter to hit a ground ball to shortstop Reece Berger for a fielder’s choice.
Kieran Sidebotham drove in Nolan Dunn for the Sea Kings in the third inning to tie the score at 1-1. The pitchers kept it even for a long while after that.
Thomas Wilcox, the CdM starter, allowed one run on six hits over eight innings while striking out six.
Isaac Ontiveros threw 6 1/3 innings in getting the start for the Spartans. He allowed one run on five hits, and he struck out nine.
“He really came out and competed,” Spartans coach Burt Call said of Ontiveros’ outing. “He got in a few jams there, and he was able to work himself out of it. He did a fantastic job and made pitches when he needed to. I’m very proud of how he kept his composure, especially for a sophomore out on the mound.”
Right fielder Carter Haight had a big game for CdM. He had two hits, and he also threw out a runner trying to advance to third base on a single in the second inning.
Nicholas Rottler also had two hits for the Sea Kings.
The Sea Kings looked to be in trouble earlier this season when they were blown out 12-3 by Newport Harbor in the Battle of the Bay at Orange Coast College on March 20. From there, though, CdM finished the regular season winning seven of its final 10 games to qualify for the playoffs as the second-place team out of the Wave League.
“That’s when the turning point was,” Sea Kings coach Kevin McCaffrey said. “It was getting rid of the selfish individual play and doing what’s best for the team. We challenged them, and they responded. It was pretty neat to see the last half of the season, especially the last weeks in league, with what they did.”
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