High School Baseball: Eagles fall short of first-round win

TORRANCE — One hard hit wasn't going to end 21 years of futility in the first round of the CIF Southern Section baseball playoffs for Estancia High.

That hit is all the Eagles produced on Friday at South Torrance in the first round of the Division 4 playoffs.

The hit came in the top of the first inning, when Steven Macias' line drive almost ripped off the third baseman's hand. Joe Aldape took off his glove to check what was left of his left hand.

The hand actually grew. At one point, his coach, Grady Sain, wasn't sure if the swelling was going to stop.

Aldape shook it off and stayed in the game. He went on to field six more balls, all grounders, one off his chest, and he played a key role to Matt Mogollon's successful start on the mound.

Mogollon threw six strong innings, leading South Torrance to a 7-2 win. The junior only needed to throw 74 pitches to end the Eagles' hopes of recording their first first-round victory since 1992.

The only trouble Mogollon (10-1) found himself in was the first inning. He almost lost his third baseman, and then a two-out error gave Estancia a 1-0 lead.

With runners on the corners, Mogollon was in a jam. His first two pitches to Alex Chairez were strikes. He didn't need to throw another pitch to Chairez.

In the corner of his eye, Mogollon saw Eric Molina take off for second base. Mogollon stepped off the rubber and threw to second base to Perry Richmond. Molina tried to retreat to first base, but Richmond ran him down and tagged him out for the third out.

That was the first of a handful of mistakes committed by the Eagles (17-10).

Their catcher was called for interference in the first inning, allowing a runner on. In that same inning, their starter hit two batters after he jumped ahead in the count each time.

Their third baseman and catcher also had a hard time holding on to the ball in the second and third innings.

The Eagles paid for the gaffes against South Torrance, which shared the Pioneer League title.

After three innings, Estancia trailed, 5-1. South Torrance (18-10) was on its way to playing at Covina Northview (22-8) in the second round on Tuesday.

"We beat ourselves," said Estancia Coach Nate Goellrich, who before the game told his players to "calm the nerves and enjoy it."

The first-round outcome was hard for the Eagles to enjoy, especially for eight senior starters. This marked the last high school game for shortstop Tyler Rios, pitcher Ben Beck, Macias, the third baseman, center fielder Levi Stillman, Molina, the designated hitter, Chairez, the right fielder, second baseman Dylan Reyes, and left fielder Johnathan Ball.

Rios started on varsity since his freshman season. He made his fourth straight first-round exit.

Rios gave Estancia its only lead, after drawing a leadoff walk. His other two plate appearances went like the rest of the lineup's at-bats — groundouts.

Mogollon induced 14 grounders, a dozen for outs, and he got two outs on infield pop-ups. The right-hander also struck out two and walked three.

"We're not a very powerful team," Goellrich said. "We put the ball in play."

Estancia hit the ball right at the defense. Only two grounders did South Torrance misplay, leading to Estancia's two runs.

Mogollon retired the side in order in the second, third and fourth innings. He kept the Eagles off balance with his fastball, curveball and changeup. His fastball consistently hit the outside corner of the plate, resulting in strikes or weak grounders.

Since the first inning, the only other runner to get into scoring position against Mogollon was Beck in the sixth inning. By then, Mogollon had enough run support.

Nick Cohan, a left-handed batter, supplied more than half of South Torrance's runs. He drove in two runs with a double down the left-field line in the first inning and two runs with a single up the middle in the fifth.

"I told the guys it hurts right now, but they'll look back on this and say it was a very successful season," said Goellrich, whose team won a wild-card game Tuesday, won 17 games for the second straight season and finished third in the Orange Coast League.

"You can't really replace [the seniors], but we have [young] guys that I'm excited to get going. We don't want to have any drop off."

CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs

First round

South Torrance 7, Estancia 2


Estancia 100 001 0 — 2 1 2

So. Torrance 212 020 0 — 7 8 2

Beck, Macias (3) and Letterman. Mogollon, Mandel (7) and Esparza. W — Mogollon, 10-1. L — Beck, 7-2. 2B — Cohan (ST).

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