COSTA MESA — Going into Tuesday, Coach Nate Goellrich said the Estancia High baseball team was off to its best start in at least 20 years.
Eight wins in the first nine games, including a 3-0 start in Orange Coast League play.
One other team posted a similar mark in league and even a better overall one. The Eagles played host to that team, Calvary Chapel, on Tuesday.
To Goellrich, the outcome came down to a couple of balls hit near the left-field line late.
"Our ball landed foul," Goellrich said. "Their ball landed fair."
First place in league is that close between two schools with the same nickname.
The ball that landed inside the white line broke a tie in the top of the seventh inning and Calvary Chapel scored twice more in the inning to beat Estancia, 5-2.
The visiting Eagles stayed perfect at 9-0, 4-0 in league and stayed atop the league standings. The host Eagles look to regroup after suffering their first league setback.
Estancia (8-2, 3-1) doesn't have much time to dwell on the loss as it travels to rival Costa Mesa on Friday.
"It's a good thing, bad thing," Goellrich said. "For our guys, we keep the loss fresh in our mind. We're not going to overlook Friday. We have a big game Friday. Winning the first game of a series is huge, and that's our goal, to win every series.
"We just fell behind one team. Hopefully we can win Friday and get back after it next week."
Next week, Estancia and Calvary Chapel play twice. The contests will be huge as they're the last between the league favorites.
The Battle for the Bell is big time as well. Getting up for Costa Mesa, which is winless in league, shouldn't be an issue for Estancia.
The rivalry is always intense, no matter what the records are for each team.
The city of Costa Mesa title means a lot. Goellrich knows. He was an assistant with the Mustangs for four seasons, until he took over at Estancia this season.
He even applied for the job at Costa Mesa and then Estancia offered him a position before his interview with the Mustangs. The interview never happened as Goellrich decided to become Estancia's next coach.
He's never looked back. And there is no reason to with Estancia's hot start.
Goellrich's club outscored its first nine opponents by an average of five runs per game. But his Eagles ran into a hotter team.
Estancia at least became the first team in league to score against Calvary Chapel.
Calvary Chapel recorded shutouts in its first three league games. That is 21 consecutive innings without allowing a run.
Estancia's Tyler Rios snapped the streak at 23 when he doubled down the right-field line in the bottom of the third inning. The junior went the other way to tie the game at 1-1.
Then the Eagles made an uncharacteristic mistake, helping Calvary Chapel starter Zach Webb get out of the inning. The Eagles ran into the third out when Webb picked off Rios trying to steal third base.
Estancia left two runners on in the fourth and fifth innings. The two in the fifth were in scoring position, but reliever Wyatt Haccou got Andres Hernandez, the clean-up hitter, to pop up in the infield to end the threat.
Starter Brody Henscheid kept Estancia in it, throwing six innings. His only bad inning was the first in which he allowed one run and walked three. The right-hander struggled with his command throughout, walking seven.
The last walk came around to score in the sixth and put Calvary Chapel ahead, 2-1. The Eagles got Henscheid off the hook, almost giving him a lead in the bottom half of the inning.
This is when the ball did not land in Estancia's favor down the left-field line.
Steven Macias was on first when Matt Jarmacz pulled a pitch down the line in left field, only to see it go foul by a couple of feet.
Macias eventually got to second on a groundout, then to third on a wild pitch. He made it home after catcher John Mizuhara couldn't handle a third strike in the dirt, which Jackson Letterman swung at and missed. Macias bolted for the plate and Letterman reached first base before Mizuhara's throw.
Estancia was even with Calvary Chapel again, but not for long. The left-field line hurt Estancia again.
Christian Sheehan went the other way, down the line in left field. The umpire ruled the double fair, resulting in a run batted in and a 3-2 lead for Calvary Chapel in the seventh inning.
Calvary Chapel stayed ahead for good. Two errors helped the visiting Eagles score two more runs in the seventh.
"That just happens in baseball," Goellrich said. "Luckily we get [Calvary Chapel] next week."
Orange Coast League
Calvary Chapel 5, Estancia 2
SCORE BY INNINGS
Calvary 100 001 3 – 5 7 0
Estancia 001 001 0 – 2 8 2
Webb, Haccou (5), Webber (6) and Mizuhara; Henscheid and Stillman (7) and Pearce. W – Webber, 3-0. L – Stillman, 0-1. 2B – Sheehan (CC), Haccou (CC), Rios (E).