COSTA MESA — Costa Mesa High baseball coach Jim Kiefer described the first inning as a nightmare. This is true. Yet everyone in attendance at the CIF Southern Section Division IV wild-card playoff game saw every coach's dream in the sixth inning.
Yes, the Mustangs lost, 19-2, to La Cañada, but Costa Mesa senior Brian Waldron showed an extreme amount of character in the bottom of the sixth.
The game seemed as if it was over, as the Mustangs trailed, 19-2. Waldron realized this was his last game and most likely his final at-bat.
He hit a hard ground ball toward third base. For most players this would mean an easy out. But Waldron didn't appear to be like most players. The three-sport star sprinted to first and slid to his chest to beat out the throw. Safe.
"That's the way Coach Kiefer has taught us and I hope the younger guys keep doing the same," said Waldron, who is set to attend Chapman, where he plans to be a baseball walk-on. "That's the way we've been playing baseball since I've been here. We play seven innings. Just because it's my last game, I don't stop there."
Waldron's effort provided a glimpse of how the Mustangs played this season. They finished second in the Orange Coast League and ended the season with a 14-14 record. Solid finish, yet more impressive when you consider Costa Mesa lost its top pitcher, Tyler Peterson, nine games into the season.
Peterson, a senior, was dismissed from the Mustangs for violating team rules, said Kiefer, who was left adjusting his team and asking his players to step up. He said they didn't let him down.
"We went from being experienced to inexperienced just because of one move," Kiefer said. "Our season could've been a lot more difficult, but they adjusted and played hard."
Kiefer admitted that was hard to see in the Mustangs' final game of the season, especially in the first inning when the Spartans (13-11) scored 10 runs.
La Cañada lost its final regular-season game, 18-0, but the Spartans turned it around with some fortunate bounces and big hits against Costa Mesa.
Now La Cañada will be moving on to play St. Paul of Sante Fe Springs.
Waldron, who had a double, wasn't the only one who provided a highlight for Costa Mesa. Senior Ryan Boulger belted his eighth home run of the year, two short of the school's single-season record set by Ruben Mancilla in 1999.
Boulger's two-run blast came in the third, when Waldron had his double.
CIF Division IV playoffs Wild-card round La Cañada 19, Costa Mesa 2 SCORE BY INNINGS
La Cañada(10)015210 — 19170Costa Mesa
0020000 — 244Shoemake, Russell (2) and Mizrahi, Torres (7); Maloney, Waldron (1), Kelly (4), Hirsch (6) and Hirsch, Cordoza (6). W – Shoemake, 6-1. L – Maloney, 8-4. 2B – Kim (LC), Mizrahi (LC), Stetson (LC), Lee (LC), Gosselin (LC); Waldron (CM). HR – Lee (LC); Boulger (CM).