Seven-run eighth inning gives baseball team sweep of Santa Ana

Seven-run eighth inning gives baseball team sweep of Santa Ana

Irvine Valley's baseball team needed a win in its final game of the regular season on Thursday to help improve its chances of making the Southern California regional playoffs.

And boy, did the Lasers get one.

Irvine Valley overcame a 6-0 deficit with seven runs in the top of the eighth inning and pulled off a stunning 7-6 victory over Santa Ana in an Orange Empire Conference game at Santa Ana.

More than helping in a playoff bid, the win was Irvine Valley's 20th win of the season and gave IVC its first ever three-game season sweep over Santa Ana.

Irvine Valley improved its record to 20-16 overall and 10-11 in conference, while Santa Ana finished its season at 14-21-1 overall and 4-17 in conference.

The victory also vaulted Irvine Valley into a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference standings with Fullerton and Saddleback.

"Unbelievable," Irvine Valley coach Kent Madole said of his team's win at Santa Ana. "Our guys are so fired up and I am so pumped for them. It was a sweet win."

Santa Ana established a 6-0 lead through the first six innings with two runs in the second, two in the third and two in the sixth.

Patrick Cromwell doubled in Troy Baird for the first run before Cameron Baranek singled in Cromwell for the second run off of Irvine Valley sophomore ace pitcher Justin Zielinski.

Julio Garcia extended the Dons lead to 4-0 in the third with a two-run home run that scored Alex Mascarenas before Tanner Negrette tripled in Devan Campos and Cromwell in the sixth inning.

IVC went into the eighth inning, trailing, 6-0, but didn't give in.

And the Lasers rallied for an amazing seven runs in the eighth inning. Four of the runs were unearned following a Santa Ana error that could have ended the inning.

Freshman center fielder Dillon Millar had an RBI single to get IVC on the board and then freshman shortstop Jordan Gillerman hit a sacrifice fly to bring in another run. Freshman left fielder Clint Jack singled through the right side to bring in sophomore third baseman Zach Vittetow and make it a 6-3 game.

With two outs, freshman designated hitter Trey Ryan stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.

He hit a ball to second base, but Mascarenas made a throwing error, which allowed all three runs to score and tie the game, 6-6.

"Only Trey Ryan can do that," Madole said. "His speed is such a difference maker. He worked a 3-2 count so we had our (base) runners activated and going. Clint Jack had such a huge primary lead at first base and was off as soon as that ball was hit. He was flying around third base to score from first. It was remarkable."

Ryan made it all the way to third base on the play. Sophomore right fielder Brett Hamilton then hit a single up the middle to bring in Ryan with the go-ahead run.

Freshman pitcher Cole Millerd did the rest. After Zielinski went five innings and gave up four runs on six hits and two walks with one strikeout and freshman Andrew Jimenez allowed two runs on a hit batter and a home run in 1/3 of an inning, Millerd shut down Santa Ana over 3.2 innings. He didn't allow a run, giving up just two hits and one walk with two strikeouts to pick up the win.

"He really wanted the ball and wanted to close the game out for us," Madole said.

He improved his record to 2-4.

The Dons managed just one base runner over the final two frames as they were unable to find the equalizing run.

A.J. Franks (3-2) took the loss for the Dons, allowing the final run on one hit in 1.1 innings of work.

Ryan was 2 for 5 at the plate, Miller went 2 for 5 with one RBI and Hamilton was 1 for 3 with two walks and one RBI for Irvine Valley.

Irvine Valley will now await the announcement of the playoff teams this weekend.

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