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Prep baseball: Mustang hardballers stand alone in first place Phillip Brents | Tue, May 14 2013 02:21 PM

The Otay Ranch Mustangs moved into sole possession of first place in the Mesa League baseball standings by defeating the host Bonita Vista Barons, 6-2, on Monday amid very hot weather conditions.

The Eastlake Titans, meanwhile, turned up the heat by defeating the visiting Hilltop Lancers, 3-0, also on Monday to force a two-way tie for second place between the teams.

Heading into Wednesday’s regular season finales, Otay Ranch (7-2 in league) holds a one-game lead over Eastlake and Hilltop (both 6-3 in league), followed by fourth place Bonita Vista (5-4 in league).

The Mustangs host the Barons seeking a win to secure sole possession of this year’s league title and an automatic berth in the upcoming San Diego Section Division I playoffs.

However, a loss by Otay Ranch in Wednesday’s contest would send the Mustangs tumbling into a tie for the league championship with Wednesday’s winner between host Hilltop and Eastlake.

Bonita Vista can finish no better than one game out of first place and thus was eliminated from championship contention with Monday’s loss.

Otay Ranch improved to 22-7 overall and has won its last four games.

“We’ve been solid all season,” ORHS coach Bob McCurdy said. “All of our losses have been when we’ve had three errors in games. If we don’t make errors, we win the games. If we limit our mistakes, we a pretty good ball club.”

The Mustangs erased an early 1-0 Bonita Vista lead with five runs in the top of the second inning and added another run in the top of the third inning to jump out in front 6-1.

Both teams combined for five errors, with the Barons leading with three.

Alec Rios tossed the first six innings for Otay Ranch, scattering four hits; Alex Kuisel closed out the final inning with the trying run at the plate.

Jaime Dorado doubled to score two runs in the Mustangs’ second-inning outburst.

Monday’s key victory built on last Friday’s 11-0 win at Mater Dei Catholic. Alec Godoy hit two home runs in the game — a solo shot in the first inning and a grand slam in the third inning. Adrian Tovalin also homered in the game.

Bonita Vista ace Matthew Ball, who had 11 strikeouts in last Friday’s 5-1 loss to visiting Hilltop, is expected to pitch against the Mustangs on Wednesday.

“We’re looking at every game as a championship game,” McCurdy said. “We have one more and we want to win that to get a good seed in the playoffs. Bonita is a scrappy team. The same with Hilltop and Eastlake, all the kids grew up playing together and know each other.”

Wednesday’s regular season finale is perhaps more critical for Bonita Vista, which is seeking to land a berth in the Division I playoffs along with Otay Ranch.

McCurdy feels his team has to be considered among the favorites at this point. “I think we have a good chance of winning it,” he said.

Ball hurled a magnificent game last Friday — until the final inning. The game started at 4 p.m. and the first six-and-a-half innings went by in exactly one hour riding the BV pitcher’s two-hitter.

But the Barons could not hold onto their tenuous 1-0 lead.

A base hit and two-base error on the play put a runner on third base to open the seventh inning for Hilltop (20-10 overall). An error on the next play and three more hits opened the floodgates for what would be five Lancer runs in the frame.

Justin Sparby went the distance for the visitors to pick up the win, striking out five.

“The wheels came off of our defense,” BVHS coach Vincent Gervais said. “We didn’t do a very good job of supporting the great pitching effort by Ball.”

Eastlake enters Wednesday’s contest at Hilltop 17-9 overall.

Both Hilltop and Eastlake will be seeking berths in the Division II playoffs where both teams expect to do well.

Bonita Vista, once in sole possession of first place in the league standings, is 16-12 overall and has now lost its last three games.

“It’s been a different year for us because our hitting hasn’t come around,” Gervais said. “We’ve lived with our pitching and defense.”

Twelve teams qualify for post-season play in Division I through Division IV. The divisional play-in round is scheduled Tuesday, May 21, followed by the opening round of double-elimination play on Wednesday, May 22.

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