COSTA MESA — Whenever Costa Mesa and Estancia meet in a high school baseball game, the rivals play for city bragging rights.
More was at stake Tuesday at Costa Mesa.
An Estancia win meant it moved closer to clinching the Orange Coast League's third and final automatic CIF Southern Section Division IV playoff berth.
A Costa Mesa victory and it still had an outside shot to make the postseason with one league game left.
The Eagles made sure to end the Mustangs' season early.
There was a little dog barking in the bleachers on the home side in the sixth inning, but that was the only danger the Eagles felt late in the game. Their coach, Matt Sorensen, did not even stick around for the bottom of the seventh inning.
Without their leader, the Eagles took care of business.
Estancia claimed third place in league and kept the rivalry's Paul Troxel Trophy after beating the Mustangs, 8-6. The Eagles earned the league's final postseason entry after Calvary Chapel picked up a 9-2 win against Godinez, which entered Tuesday tied for third with Estancia.
The Eagles won the Battle for the Bell with its second victory against Costa Mesa this season. Unlike the first meeting between the two schools, the Eagles did not have to rally in the seventh to prevail. They led from start to finish, eliminating Costa Mesa from reaching the playoffs for a fifth straight season.
Next for Estancia (12-12, 7-7 in league) is a home date against the Mustangs (10-14, 5-9) in the regular-season finale. Dave Daniels, one of the assistants who took over for Sorensen after he left before the final three outs were recorded because he had to attend class at National University, said the Eagles have a lot to play for on Thursday.
"We'd like to finish the sweep on Mesa this year," Daniels said. "I think the kids are really hoping they can do that. We control our destiny with the playoffs [because we beat Godinez two out of three times and have the tiebreaker against the Grizzlies]."
Estancia fell short of sweeping the three-game series against Costa Mesa last season, when the Eagles won the league title for the first time since 1991.
The Eagles cannot catch up to first-place Laguna Beach (24-2, 14-0), but they are going to join the Breakers in the playoffs.
Estancia came out ready after the public address announcer told everyone what the Eagles and Mustangs were playing for on Tuesday.
Alex Trancoso responded first for Estancia and he came up big later in the game, finishing two for four with three runs batted in.
The junior wasted little time as the No. 2 hitter in the first inning. He took the first pitch and then belted the second offering for a solo home run. The ball hit the yellow padding above the left-field fence and bounced over.
The next batter, Victor Trujillo, got on base after PJ Maloney walked him. Maloney struggled with his command throughout his five-inning stint. He helped himself out by not throwing to the plate. Instead, the right-hander picked off Trujillo at first base, allowing Maloney to focus on the batters.
It worked for one inning. The Eagles scored at least one run off Maloney (5-5) in every inning, except the fourth.
When Costa Mesa fought back to tie the game at 4-4 with Logan Benter and Austin McArdle each driving in a run in the third inning, Estancia jumped back ahead in the fifth. Andres Hernandez, who started on the mound and went four innings to improve to 4-3, helped himself out with a line drive toward the third-base line, driving in two runs.
The Eagles went ahead, 6-4, and Costa Mesa Coach Jim Kiefer understood why.
"Timely hitting will do you in every time," Kiefer said. "Their hitters did a great job with runners in scoring position.
"That's how you do it. That's how you take care of business, man."
In the second, fifth and sixth innings, the Eagles scored two runs each time. They got clutch hitting from the top of the lineup and toward the bottom of it. Ben Beck, the No. 9 hitter, drove in a run with a single in the second inning, and an error allowed another run to come across as the Eagles led, 3-0. That was Estancia's biggest lead until the sixth, when Beck tagged a ball that hit the fence in left-center field for a double.
Another Estancia batter got onboard, setting the table for Trancoso. With the infield in, Trancoso easily brought the two runners in with a single past the second baseman and the Eagles were now up, 8-4, helping them qualify for the playoffs for a second straight season.
Orange Coast League
Estancia 8, Costa Mesa 6
SCORE BY INNING
Est 121 022 0 - 8 14 0
CM 022 002 0 – 6 11 1
Hernandez, De la Pena (5) and Pearce; Maloney, Sheffner (6) and McArdle. W – Hernandez, 4-3. L – Maloney, 5-5. 2B – Curet 2 (CM), Beck (E), McArdle (CM), Alvis (CM), Sheffner (CM). HR – Trancoso (E).