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By Zach Cavanagh
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – It was supposed to be a showdown for the San Joaquin League title at San Juan Sports Park on Tuesday, April 27. However, Capistrano Valley Christian quickly laid the smackdown on designated host St. Margaret’s with a dozen runs for a dozen consecutive league titles.
Michigan State-committed junior Hunter Long was imposing on the mound with 11 strikeouts, and the Eagles scored in bunches as Capistrano Valley Christian defeated St. Margaret’s, 12-0, and secured its 12th straight league championship on Tuesday night.
Capistrano Valley Christian has one more game Wednesday night at Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, before CVC and St. Margaret’s meet one final time in the regular season finale back at San Juan Sports Park on Thursday, April 28.
“We’re playing good baseball right now,” CVC coach Clemente Bonilla said. “I always tell the kids we want to be trending the right direction and playing our best baseball going into May, and this being the last week of April, I feel like we’re trending in a good direction. “
CVC (19-7, 8-0) is ranked No. 5 in CIF-SS Division 3. St. Margaret’s (13-5, 5-2) is locked into second in the San Joaquin League and will enter the CIF-SS playoffs in Division 4.
The CIF-SS playoff brackets will be released on Monday, May 2. The Division 4 first round begins on Thursday, May 5, and the Division 3 first round begins on Friday, May 6.
“We’ve won league 12 times in a row,” Bonilla said, “so it’s the understanding that winning league is nice, but we want to win a CIF championship. We’ve got one goal in mind, and we’re going to do everything we can to put ourselves in that position.”
CVC put its stamp on the game immediately with a four-run first inning. Hayden Carlson reached with a walk and scored, Johnny Tewinkle hit a single and scored, Jarrod Rowley hit an RBI single and scored, Tommy Woods walked and scored and Tyler Roberts hit a two-run single.
The Eagles added on in the second inning with a run-scoring double-play groundout by Carlson to score Anders Nilsson, and Jake Beauchaine scored on an error after reaching on a walk for the 6-0 lead.
Beauchaine hit a lead-off home run in the fourth, and the Eagles really laid it on in the fifth inning.
With the bases loaded and one out, Nilsson laid down a sacrifice bunt, which scored Woods and Roberts. Beauchaine followed up with an RBI triple, and Boston Baro hit another triple to score Beauchaine. Baro scored on an error to put CVC up by a dozen, 12-0.
“Offensively, we did a lot of good things,” Bonilla said. “We hit well early in the count, and also stayed back and took the ball the other way with two strikes, hit and run once and a squeeze play once.”
On the mound, Long led off the St. Margaret’s half of the first inning with a strikeout and never looked back. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound right-hander pounded the strike zone and didn’t hit any bit of struggle until the fifth inning.
St. Margaret’s loaded the bases with one out on a pair of walks and a hit batter, but Long locked it down with back-to-back strikeouts to close the frame.
Long pitched into the seventh and was lifted after a lead-off single. Long allowed just two hits and no runs with three walks and 11 strikeouts.
“I think Hunter showed why he’s committed to Michigan State,” Bonilla said, “and why he’s going to be a huge impact in the CIF playoffs for us. We want him pitching in the biggest innings of our biggest games.”
Capistrano Valley Christian squeezes in one last nonleague game on Wednesday at Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, and the Eagles scheduled the late season game against the No. 7-ranked team in Division 1 with good reason.
“One thing that I remember well is that we won the CIF championship in 2014, that’s the last time we played for a CIF championship, and we had Notre Dame on our schedule that year,” Bonilla said. “I think that it’s good to challenge ourselves. To us going up there, it’s a win-win. If we compete and lose, we got prepared for the playoffs. If we can sneak one away from them, it just gives us even more confidence.”
It’s hard to imagine CVC’s confidence being any higher than it is right now, but the Eagles will need all they can get heading into the CIF-SS playoffs next week.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at email@example.com.