COSTA MESA — On the back of the jerseys of Costa Mesa High's opponent were huge numbers.
Through five innings Tuesday, the Mustangs had the big number that mattered most, eleven runs.
The Mustangs were on their way at home to shutting out Saddleback. Coach Jim Kiefer pulled starter Tyler Sheffner after four strong innings and his replacement, Logan Benter, after one inning in relief.
Saddleback managed just two hits before the top of the sixth. Costa Mesa helped the Roadrunners reach base in the final two innings because of hit batters, walks and errors. Nine runs came across.
Costa Mesa almost let one slip away against a team that only won once in league last season, and just twice overall.
The Mustangs hung on and won the Orange Coast League game, 11-9, extending their winning streak to five games. In the first two games in league play, Costa Mesa has been involved in some high-scoring affairs.
The Mustangs have been on the winning side each time. Kiefer hopes the latest one taught his players a lesson.
"In a situation like that, Saddleback wakes up, does a good job and battles its way back into the game, we just have to play through it," Kiefer said. "We just have to battle through the situation. You're going to deal with adversity. That's one of the things we talked about with our kids, 'Nothing's ever easy.'"
Scoring runs has been for the Mustangs (6-2, 2-0 in league). They have recorded 29 runs in the past two league contests.
Costa Mesa appeared to be the second team to welcome Saddleback to the Orange Coast League by blowing the Roadrunners (2-6, 0-2) out.
Calvary Chapel trounced Saddleback, 15-0, last Friday. Unlike the league opener at home, Saddleback rallied on the road late after going down, 11-0, in the fifth inning.
Kiefer was impressed with the Roadrunners, who used to be a member of the Golden West League.
"They were very tenacious. That's what I liked about them," Kiefer said. "They just kept playing for seven innings."
The Roadrunners wanted to go extra innings. They had a shot.
In the seventh inning, Saddleback had runners on third and second and the tying run at the plate with two outs. At the plate was clean-up hitter Roger Salgado.
By this time, Kiefer had his ace, PJ Maloney, on the mound. The right-hander was slated to start Friday against Calvary Chapel, but Kiefer wanted Maloney to save the game for Costa Mesa.
Maloney entered the inning with the bases loaded and no outs. One run scored on a fielder's choice, one on a single, and another on an error. Three runs in all, but he got two outs.
With a two-run lead and runners on the corners, Maloney's first pitch to Salgado was a wild one. The runner from first moved to second. Three pitches later, Maloney got Salgado to line out to center for the third out, thwarting Saddleback's comeback.
"This is definitely a game we could've won," said Saddleback Coach Steve Fedele, who saw his defense commit six errors, which led to Costa Mesa jumping out in front early.
"We were 2-23 [last season]. We've won as many games this year … as we did all of last year. We worked out since May, since the season was over. We didn't show [how much we have improved defensively on Tuesday], but we have been [getting better]."
The Roadrunners hurt themselves by committing one error in the second inning that led to Costa Mesa taking a 2-0 lead with two outs.
The Mustangs took advantage with Nathan Alvis blasting a shot over the left fielder's head to drive in a run. Frankie Farldow picked Alvis up with a long single down the left-field line that was just fair.
The Mustangs scored four runs in each of the third and fourth innings. Trace Curet, who went two for three, collected three runs batted in during the two-inning stretch.
While Costa Mesa is off to a good start in league and Saddleback is not, Fedele likes playing in a new league. No longer does he have to deal with Ocean View, the defending Golden West League and CIF Southern Section Division III champion.
"It's tough to compete against teams like [Ocean View]," said Fedele, whose team gave Costa Mesa, which has contended for a league title in the Orange Coast League the past three seasons, a scare.
Orange Coast League
Costa Mesa 11, Saddleback 9
SCORE BY INNINGS
Sad 000 006 3 – 9 5 6
CM 024 410 x – 11 11 6
Sainz, Munoz (4), Salgado (5) and Zermeno; Sheffner, Benter (5), Bennion (6), Farldow (6) and Maloney (7) and Hayes, Benter (6). W – Sheffner, 2-1. L – Sainz, 0-1. 2B – Alvis (CM), Curet (CM), Benter (CM).