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Mustangs show progress despite loss

April 13, 2003

Steve Virgen

After losing a 2-1 game to Carlsbad, it would seem logical that the

Costa Mesa High baseball team would be feeling regret. Instead, the

Mustangs were experiencing progress. That's how the 2003 season is

for the Mustangs, a year of game-by-game, play-by-play appreciation

for improvement.

"I was pleased with the way (we) played," said Mesa Coach Doug

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Deats, whose team lost its first-round game in the Pride of the Coast

Tournament Saturday at Costa Mesa. "That was a good game. We just

came out on the wrong side of it. We played well in all phases. I

have no complaints at all."

The Mustangs (6-8) had dropped two Golden West League games

earlier in the week, including a 7-5 loss to Santa Ana Friday. Costa

Mesa also lost 9-3 at Westminster Wednesday, when Deats said, "that

might have been our worst effort of the year."

But that was not the case for Mesa Saturday, as Costa Mesa opened

the game with a 1-0 lead. The Mustangs were the "visiting" team in

the tournament game. Senior Nate Hunter led off with a single, and

senior Adam Beltran followed with a double. Senior Dan Bitler earned

an RBI after his sacrifice fly, scoring Hunter and providing the

Mustangs with the 1-0 advantage.

The Lancers (7-5) scored one unearned run in the bottom of the

second inning to tie the score, and then went ahead after three

straight walks and a hit by pitch in the fourth to gain the 2-1 edge.

Sophomore catcher Brandon McClung, who walked, scored on a throwing

error amid a pickoff attempt in the bottom of the second.

Beltran, who relieved starter Daniel Cooper to start the fourth,

retired the first two batters he faced.

But he walked the next three batters and then junior Ryan

Hendricks collected what proved to be the game-winning RBI after

being hit by the pitch.

Beltran struck out the next batter to end the inning. Mesa junior

pitcher Gary Gonzalez came on in the fifth and went on to retire the

six batters he faced in his two shutout innings of work.

"We pitched well," Deats said. "We played very well, but [double

plays] just happen. That's part of baseball."

Deats was referring to the top of the sixth inning, when the

Mustangs had the bases loaded with one out, but the Lancers came up

with a double play. Junior third baseman Danny Carafa fielded a

groundball tagged the bag for the force and made the quick throw to

first to end the inning.

"That was a really clutch play," Carlsbad Coach Randy Davila said.

"Costa Mesa made some good defensive plays and so did we. We got a

really well-pitched game from our sophomore [Cody Cantabrana]."

Cantabrana improved to 3-2 on the season after his solid

complete-game performance. He scattered seven hits, struck out four

and walked one, using 92 pitches, which featured effective curve

balls. He was backed by a defense that produced three double plays.

After Costa Mesa came up short in the top of the sixth inning,

Cantabrana retired the side in order to end the game. The Mustangs

will return to action in the Pride of the Coast Tournament Monday at

2 p.m., facing the Mission Viejo-Santiago loser, at Costa Mesa.

*--*

Pride of the Coast Tournament

First round Carlsbad 2, Costa Mesa 1

Score by Innings

Mesa 100 000 0 -- 1 7 2

Carlsbad 010 100 x -- 2 4 1

Cooper, Beltran (3), Gonzalez (5) and N.

Hunter; Cantabrana and McClung. W --

Cantabrana, 3-2. L -- Beltran. 2B --

Beltran (CM), McClung (C)

*--*

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