Ryan Gaynor didn't start Tuesday's Orange Empire Conference game against Santa Ana at home, but he sure did end it.
The sophomore had a clutch, two-out, pinch-hit single to tie the game in the seventh inning and later, leading off the bottom of the 10th inning, launched the first pitch he saw from Santa Ana reliever Cole Hoskins over the left field fence to give Irvine Valley a 7-6, walk-off win.
It was a key conference victory for the Lasers, who moved into a tie with Santa Ana for sixth place in the conference standings. The win kept IVC's hopes alive for the postseason.
Irvine Valley improved its record to 18-20 overall and 8-11 in conference, while Santa Ana's record slipped to 20-18 overall and 8-11 in conference.
The two teams meet again on Thursday at Santa Ana at 2 p.m. and wrap up the three-game series back at Irvine Valley on Friday at 2 p.m.
Irvine Valley grabbed a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third inning when sophomore designated hitter Zack Stack came through with an RBI single and then sophomore right fielder Grant Rockefeller hit a two-run double to left center.
Santa Ana tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the fourth on a two-run single by Raymond Villanueva and then took a 5-3 advantage in the fifth inning on a two-run home run by Andrew Martinez.
But Gaynor's single to left field brought in Stack and sophomore shortstop Colin Conroy in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the score at 5-5.
And Irvine Valley went ahead in the bottom of the eighth inning when sophomore Cooper Moore smashed a home run out to left center.
But the Lasers couldn't close out Santa Ana in the top of the ninth. With the bases loaded, Nathan Flores laid down a bunt to bring in Villanueva and tie the score at 6-6.
Conroy turned a big double play in the top of the 10th inning to get IVC back in the dugout, and Gaynor took care of the rest with his shot to left.
Gaynor went 2 for 3 with the home run, one run and three RBI. Freshman third baseman Dustin Angus was 3 for 4 and Moore went 1 for 2 with two walks, a home run and one RBI.
Villanueva went 3 for 5 with three RBI and Martinez was 2 for 5 with a home run and two RBI for the Dons.
Freshman Noah Bradford earned the win in relief for the Lasers. He pitched 1.2 innings and gave up one walk. He went to 7-3 on the year.
Freshman Chad Burchit did a nice job in relief for IVC. He went 3.1 innings and was charged with one run on three hits and one walk with a strikeout.
Hoskins took the loss for Santa Ana. He went three innings and gave up two runs on four hits with three strikeouts.