By Steve Breazeale
With one swing of the bat, San Clemente senior designated hitter Gage Costales erased all the frustration that has built up among Triton hitters who have faced Laguna Hills pitching this season.
In the two teams second meeting of the year on April 9, with the score tied at 0-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning with runners at first and third, Costales swatted a fastball offering from Laguna Hills’ starter Kevin Cunningham and planted it over the left field fence for a walk-off three-run home run and a 3-0 Sea View League win.
The runs scored on Costales’ hit were the first scored by the Tritons (16-3, 4-1 league) against the Hawks (13-7, 2-3) this year, as Laguna Hills took the first meeting 3-0 back on March 15.
After rounding the bases in a hurry, Costales was greeted at home plate by an excited mob of teammates.
“I was just sitting there looking fastball waiting for my pitch,” Costales said. “I was just waiting for it and at 3-1 (in the count) he gave me that fastball right down the middle and that was the pitch. It was amazing. It was the best feeling I’ve ever had.”
Because of a worn out arm, Costales has been getting playing time exclusively at the designated hitters spot. He started heating up last week while the Tritons were playing in the Anaheim Lions Tournament and head coach Dave Gellatly has had him in the lineup ever since.
Both starting pitchers looked to be in form, setting the stage for what was a dramatic seventh inning.
San Clemente senior pitcher Cody Maples retired the first 14 batters he faced before giving up his first hit with two outs in the fifth inning. Maples, who is coming off an injury, was on a strict pitch count of 60 and still managed to pitch six innings of one-hit shutout ball. He also struck out four Hawks batters and yielded no walks.
Cunningham used a varied mix of pitches to navigate his way through the Tritons lineup and did not give up a hit until the seventh inning when senior Brock Eissman laced a ball into a gap for a one-out double. Senior Jake Terkoski followed with a single and Costales shut the door with his biggest hit of the year.
The Tritons have now won 10 games in a row and will travel to face the Hawks again on April 10.
-San Clemente sophomore catcher Lucas Herbert is out for at least four weeks after breaking his hand, according to Gellatly. Gellatly hopes Herbert will be back in the lineup for the final two weeks of league play.
– Senior Shane Elias-Calles has been filling in for Herbert while he recovers from injury. Elias-Calles had been the Tritons every day left fielder.
-The wind played a factor in this one and affected two well-hit balls off Tritons bats. In his first at bat of the game, San Clemente leadoff man Dan Caresio hit a ball to deep right field that was hit well enough to carry the fence, but curled hard and was pushed even more foul due to the wind. Maples also hit a hard ball that fell into a Hawks mitt right at the warning track in the fourth inning.
– The home run tallied by Costales was his second in his high school career. He hit one as a junior.
– With both pitchers poised to make a run at a magical no-hitter or perfect game in the third inning, their middle infielders made highlight reel plays. In the top of the inning, Tritons junior shortstop Kent Burckle fielded a bouncing ball up the middle, used his momentum to spin him around and threw out the Hawks runner by a step. In the bottom of the inning, Laguna Hills’ second baseman Noah Anderson ranged to his right on a ground ball that took a hop, hit his mitt, and fell into his bare hand. Anderson threw to first to complete the play.