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Big hit eludes La Costa Canyon as Mavericks eliminated from state baseball playoffs

Friday night, in the San Diego Section Open Division championship game at UC San Diego, the La Costa Canyon High baseball team got clutch hit after clutch hit in a win.

Tuesday, in the first round of the Southern California Division I Regional playoffs, the Mavericks put 15 runners on base but couldn’t get a timely hit and fell 5-1 to Huntington Beach.

“The goal all year was to win the San Diego championship,” said LCC second baseman Nolan Farley, who was on base three times and drove in the only run for the No. 3-seeded Mavericks (24-11).

“We were 12-8 at one point in the season. But we changed our attitude, changed our focus, and we became the best team in San Diego.

“Sure it hurts that we lost. We had guys on all over the place, but just couldn’t get that big hit.

“But this loss doesn’t take away from what we accomplished.”

LCC was facing UCLA-bound left-hander Ben Jacobs, whose fastball sat at 91 mph.

In six innings, he allowed three hits, hit a pair of batters, walked one and struck out five.

“He had some serious velo, but we did better against him than we did against the other hard thrower we faced,” Farley said.

The reference was to Canyon Crest Academy lefty Sam Garewal, who struck out 14 Mavericks.

Matt Lopez came on in relief in the seventh for Huntington Beach and walked the bases loaded, bringing the tying run to the plate.

But the game ended on a grounder to second.

The Mavericks left 10 runners on base — seven in scoring position.

“This was a tough matchup,” said LCC coach Justin Machado. “We had a tough championship game Friday. They lost in their semifinals and hadn’t played for a week. They were rested, and they’re very good, very well coached.

“Still, we were right there. One big hit and it might have been a different game.”

Huntington Beach (23-9), seeded No. 6, advances to face No. 7-seeded Villa Park, which stunned No. 2 Bakersfield Stockdale.

Sophomore right-hander Stunner Gonzalez started and threw five strong innings for LCC, allowing two runs on four hits, getting nine groundball outs.

The Mavericks return 15 players from this year’s team.

“We’re a young team, and these tough games will help us next season,” Machado said.

“I’m proud of our season. These guys fought all season. Worked hard.

“And they’ll work hard in the offseason to get better.

“It’s too bad we couldn’t get a clutch hit today. But that’s baseball.”

In other games involving San Diego Section teams:

Division I: No. 8 Granite Hills fell 5-2 at No. 1 San Juan Capistrano JSerra.

Division II: No. 6 Rancho Bernardo beat No. 3 Torrance 2-1 and will face No. 2 Torrey Pines, which beat Palos Verdes 1-0.

Division III: No. 1 Eastlake cruised by No. 8 Riverside La Sierra 9-1, and will host No. 5 Newport Harbor on Thursday. No. 6 Grossmont upset No. 3 La Quinta 5-3. No. 7 Francis Parker lost to No. 2 Westlake Village Oaks Christian 6-5. Oaks Christian will host Grossmont on Thursday.

Division IV: No. 8 Mission Bay lost 1-0 to No. 1 Las Flores Tesoro. No. 7 Mar Vista fell 4-2 to No. 2 Fullerton.

Division V: No. 6 Palo Verde Valley lost 1-0 to No. 3 Baldwin Park.