It's only fitting that the Sunset League baseball race— wild and wacky one all throughout — would come down to the final day of the regular season. All that's riding on the outcome of Thursday games is a league championship, playoff berths and league seedings for the upcoming postseason.
On Tuesday, Marina stayed in contention for the Sunset title by edging visiting Huntington Beach, 5-4, Fountain Valley took a 6-1 decision from Newport Harbor and Los Alamitos kept its one-game lead and first-place standing by downing Edison, 8-2.
Thursday's schedule has Edison at Los Alamitos, Fountain Valley at Newport Harbor, and Marina at Huntington, all at 3:15 p.m.
The title in the Golden West League also is up for grabs on the final day of the regular season Thursday, and Ocean View is in line for that top spot.
Los Al has a one-game lead on Marina heading into the league finale. The Vikings (16-9, 10-4 in league) kept pace with the Griffins by coming from behind in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull out a 5-4 win over Huntington. Jake Bauers hit a walk-off, bases-loaded, two-run single to win the game. Freshman Steve Gingery, in relief of starter Austin Olivas (injury), got the win.
Senior Lou Payetta, who went two for three, smashed a solo home run in the top of the seventh to put Huntington up, 4-3.
The Oilers (17-8, 7-7 for fourth in league)have lost eight games this season by a combined 12 runs.
"Steve did a tremendous job to earn the victory," Marina Coach Bob Marshall said. "Benji Medure is a great coach and prepares his team well. It was an intense game and a fight to the end. (Huntington Beach pitcher) Christian Abe kept us off-balance and the Huntington lineup, from top to bottom, is extremely dangerous. Lou Payetta owned us today. He hammered that home run, it was a blast into the trees.
"I've said this before, this Huntington Beach team is really strong. However, we don't give up. We have battled to the end in many of our wins and losses. Jake Bauers came through in the bottom of the seventh that erupted our bench and fans. I am very proud of Jake, he is a hard worker who seeks perfection. It was a great win for the Vikings."
Edison took a 2-0 first-inning lead at Los Alamitos, but the Griffins scored the game's final eight runs to earn an 8-2 win. Senior Timmy Lopes went two for three with a double and run scored for the Chargers (10-13, 8-6 in league).
Fountain Valley collected its 14th win of the season and fourth in Sunset play by defeating visiting Newport Harbor, 6-1. Junior Nick Yang, in relief of senior Lee Perri, threw four innings to get the win and run his record to 3-0. Senior Tanner Brown hit his third home run of the season and sophomore Brock Lundquist went two for three with a pair of doubles.
The Barons (14-11, 4-10) have played most of the league season without starter Turner Clouse.
"I don't know if our glass is half full or half empty," Barons Coach Ron LaRuffa said. "In nonleague, we are 10-1 with some wins against some good teams. In league, five one-run losses in the last inning has taken a toll. The loss of Turner hurt, but with so many returning players (coming back) next year, there is hope for the future."
Ocean View stayed tied with Westminster (both 10-4) for the Golden West League lead Tuesday by downing visiting Segerstrom, 8-4. A home run in the opening inning by Zach Honnes gave the Seahawks a 1-0 lead. They scored three more runs in the fourth on a bases-loaded double that drove in three runs. In the sixth, Timmy Robinson belted a three-run home run and Luke Fell had an RBI single.
Robinson, who has committed to USC for baseball, hit his 11th home run of the year and now holds the school's single-season record. He took over the top spot last week from former major-league player David Holdridge who held the record with nine.
Fell, Honnes and John Giacone each had two hits. Senior Jonah Desjardin, who came on in the sixth inning for starter Fell and got out of a bases-loaded jam, picked up the win in relief.
The Seahawks and Jaguars meet again at 3 p.m. Thursday at Segerstrom.
"Segerstrom has improved every year Coach (Erasmo) Ramirez has had them," Ocean View Coach Shane Borowski said. "They are a tough opponent every time out. We had a good lead on them and they found a way to tie it up. We are not very good at holding leads, and fortunately for us we are able to hit our way out of the defensive holes we dig. I liked our energy, I liked our spirit, and I liked our lead-off hitter (Robinson) putting us ahead for good with another go-ahead homer. He is quite a player. USC is getting themselves a great player in Timmy."