Hernandez helps Eagles beat Mesa

Andres Hernandez wears No. 6. There is not a reason why he chose the jersey number at Estancia High.

He sported the same number last year, but this year the junior is no longer No. 6 in the lineup.

Hernandez moved up a couple of spots to the cleanup spot. His approach in the batter's box has changed.

"I feel more involved in the lineup," said Hernandez, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week. "My job is to [get] RBIs for us."

Batting fourth is a big job and Hernandez has answered the call. Last week against rival Costa Mesa, he drove in two runs, got on base late and stole two bases to help the host Eagles win, 7-6, in walk-off fashion.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Hernandez kept the inning alive with a pivotal hit that shook up the reliever on the mound.

Hernandez hit a line drive right at Tyler Sheffner, tagging him in his right throwing arm. Sheffner went down, but Hernandez never looked toward the mound to see if he was OK. Hernandez bolted out of the box and up the first-base line to make sure he reached base safely.

Hernandez did, but he did not stay on first after a delay in the game due to Sheffner going down. Sheffner left and went to the hospital.

After taking Sheffner out, Hernandez stole second and then third base on the next reliever. The pitcher walked the next batter, and then intentionally walked another, loading the bases.

Four pitches later, Hernandez jogged in and stepped on home plate to give Estancia the victory. Brodie Pearce drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in Hernandez.

The first two players the Eagles jumped on were Hernandez and Pearce. They were happy to win the first of three games in the Battle for the Bell series.

"It was very important. It was our rival game. We just had to win that one," said Hernandez, a three-year starter at second base. "One more win [against Costa Mesa] and we win the battle."

For the second straight year, the Eagles are looking to keep the Paul Troxel Trophy, given to the winner of the rivalry. They also want to defend their Orange Coast League crown.

The league title won last season was Estancia's first since 1991. Hernandez was not even born back then, so being a part of a championship team meant a lot.

"Once-in-a-lifetime experience for me," said Hernandez, adding that a back-to-back feat in league will be tough. "We're going to try. We're going to keep on fighting for it."

The Eagles find themselves in second place in league at 3-2, three games behind 5-0 Laguna Beach.

Hernandez contributed last week to keeping the Eagles in the hunt. He went six for 10 with three RBIs and two doubles, as Estancia won two of three league games.

The Eagles have this week off in league. They return next week during spring break to face the Breakers twice. In order to close the gap in league, Hernandez said Estancia must beat Laguna Beach, ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division IV coaches' poll.

"We're just getting ready to play Laguna," said Hernandez, whose team dropped the league opener at home to the Breakers, 5-1, on March 18. "Laguna was the top team for us to compete with and we didn't really worry about the other teams. We just thought we could handle them."

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Andres Hernandez

Born: Feb. 7, 1994

Hometown: Costa Mesa

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 170 pounds

Sport: Baseball

Position: Second base

Coach: Matt Sorensen

Favorite food: In-N-Out Burger Double-Double

Favorite movie: "The Hangover"

Favorite athletic moment: "Getting up to the plate with runners in scoring position."

Week in review: Hernandez went six for 10 with three RBIs and two doubles to help Estancia win two of three Orange Coast League games, including a 7-6 decision against rival Costa Mesa.

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