Santa Margarita baseball scores three runs in the 6th to edge JSerra

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — A three-run sixth inning propelled Santa Margarita’s baseball team to a 3-2 win over JSerra in a Trinity League game Friday at JSerra High.

Santa Margarita (15-6-1, 6-3) won the season series against JSerra (12-8-1, 5-4) and is tied with Orange Lutheran for first place in the Trinity League standings.

The Eagles also won the season series against Orange Lutheran and owns the tiebreaker over the Lancers.

“It’s so bunched up in the league standings and every win you can get is huge,” Santa Margarita coach Chris Malec said. “It was a huge series win and confidence booster for a young club like us.”

Santa Margarita stranded the bases loaded in the fifth inning but finally broke through for some runs in the sixth.

Brody Schumaker drew a bases-loaded walk to cut JSerra’s lead to 2-1.

In the ensuing at-bat, Ben Finnegan hit a two-run single to left field to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead.

“I got down 1-2 and it’s just about sticking to your process,” Finnegan said. “Ultimately, I trusted my ability and the work I put in. That was a result of the work I put in and my faith.”

Finnegan went 2 for 4 with a double, a stolen base and two runs batted in.

Malec turned to an unproven arm to pitch the last two innings for the Eagles. Sophomore Noah Darnell was on the junior varsity team two weeks ago and was making just his second varsity appearance Friday.

Darnell allowed just one baserunner in two clean innings to earn the save.

“The kid doesn’t even drive yet and he comes up in a big moment pitching with a one-run lead in a packed atmosphere,” Malec said. “He’s mature beyond his years.”

Darnell made his varsity debut in the National Classic last week. He threw one inning of mop-up duty in a 12-4 win over Damien.

“That’s kind of been my dream for years and I’ve always looked forward to pitching against JSerra,” Darnell said. “This team is electric and it’s so much fun to be out here. When I got that final out they were hyping me up.”

Brennan Bauer started the game for the Eagles and allowed just one earned run in five innings of work.

“Bauer is a steady arm at the end of the week for us to rely on for quality innings,” Malec said. “There was a lot of traffic on the bases for JSerra and he limited damage.”

JSerra stranded five runners in scoring position Friday.

TCU commit Marcus Greis hit a RBI double in the second inning for JSerra. Gavin Flores hit a run-scoring single in the fifth.

Oregon commit Josh Hollis pitched well for JSerra, allowing no runs in 4 2/3 innings with three strikeouts.

Santa Margarita will play a three-game series next week against Servite beginning Tuesday. The Eagles swept Servite last season.

JSerra will host Granada Hills Charter Saturday before playing a three-game series against St. John Bosco next week.

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