Eagles fade in first round

Daily Pilot

COSTA MESA — More fans than the usual dozen, which includes the guy sitting on a raised bench in his backyard, showed up to watch Estancia High play.

The school set up extra bleachers behind the backstop to accommodate the large baseball crowd.

The numbers dwindled after the fourth inning Friday.

The Eagles fell behind by three runs. In the dugout, Coach Matt Sorensen tried to motivate his players.

"We've [rallied] several times actually by as much as five or six runs," Sorensen said. "We've been here before. I felt like a lot of the kids remembered that and they remembered the feeling and they knew how to do it."

The Eagles really had not experienced this stage.

The reason for the big fan turnout was simple. Estancia waited 16 years for this opportunity.

It didn't last long. The Eagles' first CIF Southern Section playoff appearance since 1994 lasted one round. Colony beat Estancia, 4-2, in a Division IV first-round game.

The Titans (17-9) ruined the home team's moment. They lined up for a team picture in shallow right field, where practically everyone making the drive to Estancia (17-11) from Ontario took pictures.

The photo session ended when a player reminded Coach Tom Keller of what awaited the Colony: traffic. They raced toward the bus, hoping the ride back home wasn't ugly.

It is better to be stuck in traffic than the first round again. For the first time in four seasons, the Titans advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

"This is a good step forward," Keller said.

Sorensen said you could say the same thing of the Eagles' season. They made strides in Sorensen's third season at the helm.

Two years ago, Estancia went winless in the Orange Coast League.

The Eagles this season won the league crown, the program's first since 1991.

They came out Friday trying to carry the momentum from winning the title in the league finale last week. Things began well for Estancia. Junior Matt Carlyle drove in the game's first run in the third inning.

Marc DeFrenza, who took the mound for the second straight game, shut down the second-place team from the Mt. Baldy League through three innings. The pitcher had eight days rest in between starts.

DeFrenza looked good, striking out three batters and allowing only two hits in the first three innings of work.

In the fourth, things got away from the right-handed senior. DeFrenza (9-4) gave up a single to the leadoff man and then walked back-to-back batters to load the bases.

With one out, Michael Rodriguez went the other way. The ball appeared headed foul until it dropped on the right-field line for a double. Two runners came across and the Titans took a 2-1 lead.

"It's a game of inches," Keller said.

The game quickly grew in favor of Colony in the fourth.

The next batter, Shawn Sweeney, hit a ball to the right of second baseman Andres Hernandez. He almost got to the ball before it bounced away toward center, bringing in two more runs to put Colony ahead, 4-1.

"They hit some really tough pitches that DeFrenza threw at them," Sorensen said. "They weren't very hard hit. They hit them where we [weren't]. They came out with four [runs] and that was enough."

Keller said he felt the run support was enough for his pitchers.

Left-handed starter Aaron Bernal gave Colony five strong innings. He gave way to Robert Brenes after giving up a leadoff single to Alex Trancoso in the sixth.

Brenes' curveball and fastball were daunting. The Eagles still managed to cut the deficit to two in the sixth, but Brenes struck out two batters with runners in scoring position.

In the seventh, Brenes induced three straight grounders. One of those was by Carlyle, who kept the inning alive after hustling toward first base. He made it safely after a throwing error.

One batter later, Brenes closed it out, ending Estancia's season. While the Titans celebrated, Sorensen and the rest of Eagles looked back at what they accomplished.

The future looks promising.

"They've taken us to the next level," Sorensen said. "From here on out, it's going to be expected [to make the playoffs every year]."

CIF Division IV playoffs First round Colony 4, Estancia 2 SCORE BY INNINGS

Colony 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 — 4 10 2 Estancia

0 0 1 0 0 1 0 — 2 6 2 Bernal, Brenes (6) and Sweeney; DeFrenza, Boselo (6) and Dominguez. W – Bernal, 6-1. L – DeFrenza, 9-4. 2B – Rodriguez (C).

CIF Playoffs Colony…4 Estancia…2

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