Santa Margarita baseball piles up the walks, hits in victory over Damien in National Classic

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA — Santa Margarita’s baseball team started the National Classic with a dominant 12-4 win over Damien Tuesday at Santa Margarita High.

Thirteen batters reached base for Santa Margarita (11-4-1) and 10 different hitters drove in runs. The Eagles matched their season high by drawing 10 walks.

“We had a lot of really good at-bats,” Santa Margarita coach Chris Malec said. “They were patient and were ready to swing when they came in the zone. That’s challenging when you get issued 10 walks but our guys did a good job staying disciplined.”

The Eagles, who are ranked No. 1 in the Register’s Top 25, will play Gahr Wednesday at Irvine Valley College. Santa Margarita beat Gahr 4-2 earlier this season in the PBR Invitational Tournament in February.

Santa Margarita beat Damien (8-7-1) 9-2 earlier this season in a nonleague game. That game was similar to the one Tuesday as the Eagles drew nine walks in the first meeting.

The Eagles had the bases loaded with one out in the first when Warren Gravely IV hit a sacrifice fly to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

With the bases loaded again, Jake Lavin was hit by a pitch to extend the lead to 2-0 in the first.

Gavin Spiridonoff hit a two-run double in the second inning to increase the lead to four. Spiridonoff went 1 for 1 with a pair of walks and a stolen base.

Santa Margarita pitcher Cade Townsend pitched well but battled control issues. The Ole Miss commit allowed two runs in four innings with one hit, five walks and seven strikeouts. Both of the runs Townsend allowed were on wild pitches.

“He had to probably wait 25 minutes between innings so it was hard for him to keep rhythm,” Malec said. “He did a really good job throwing up zeroes and staying in it. He’s only going to get sharper in his next start back in league next week.”

Trevor Banning and Logan de Groot each had RBI walks in the third inning for the Eagles. Brody Schumaker also drove in a run with a single in the third. He went 2 for 3 with a RBI.

“The boys are all hot and seeing the ball well right now,” Schumaker said. “When I don’t play well the boys behind me can pick it up, and when I do get on they can drive me in so it feels pretty good.”

Santa Margarita cleared its bench in the fifth inning. Blake Ankrum and Austin Sanders had RBI hits in the inning and Delmar Perez hit a two-run home run over the wall in right field to make the score 12-2.

“Delmar has done a good job staying ready and he’s been huge off the bench for us with quality at-bats,” Malec said. “Our guys coming off the bench have been ready to go and it’s a testament to their maturity and commitment to their teammates.”

Damien used seven pitchers in the loss and all 12 runs were earned. Utah signee Nikko Paoletto walked three times and stole two bases for the Spartans. Eli Bechtel and Julian Hines each hit doubles for Damien and Hines scored a run.

Three of Damien’s runs were scored on wild pitches and the fourth was due to a throwing error by Santa Margarita.

The Spartans will play Covina Wednesday at Fullerton College.

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