Wolverines top Mater Dei 11-10, advance to Round of 32

Cole Jacobson

Led by a three-hit performance from Jackson Grayson ’15 and a clutch last inning RBI single from Ezra Steinberg ’15, the varsity baseball team just edged Santa Ana Mater Dei (17-13 overall, 8-7 in Trinity League) 11-10 in a road CIF Southern Section Division I wild-card matchup on Tuesday evening. With the win, the Wolverines will advance to the Round of 32 in the playoff bracket, where they will face No. 7 seed Vista Murrieta.

Harvard-Westlake began the game with a bang, taking a 5-0 lead in the first inning off Monarch ace Michael Thomas ’17, but Mater Dei responded with their own five-run frame off Cameron Deere ’16 to tie things after the first inning. From there, the game continued to be an offensive showdown, with the Wolverines never trailing but the Monarchs never falling out of contention until the bitter end.

Harvard-Westlake stretched the lead to 8-5 in the fourth inning with the help of a home run from Deere, who finished with four RBIs, but Mater Dei was able to remove him from the mound after 3.1 IP and cut the lead to 8-7. On a Leo Kaplan ’16 RBI single in the sixth inning, Harvard-Westlake’s lead was back up to 10-7, but Mater Dei came back in the bottom of the sixth to score three runs — all unearned — off Harvard-Westlake reliever Gabe Golob ’16 and tie the game up 10-10 going into the last frame.

Fortunately for the Wolverines, leadoff hitter Steinberg was there to clean things up. After Chase Aldridge ’15 led off the top of the seventh with a walk, Steinberg knocked him in to take an 11-10 lead entering the bottom of the inning. Golob closed out the night with a scoreless seventh, and the Wolverines were able to advance by the skin of their teeth in the one-run win.

Harvard-Westlake maintains its undefeated record in non-league games, advancing to 23-5 overall (7-5 in Mission League) with the win. Next up, the Wolverines will be heading out even further on the road, taking the 94.4 mile trek to Vista Murrieta (18-8, 11-4 in Southwestern League) to take on the Broncos in the Round of 32 on Thursday at 3:15 p.m. Harvard-Westlake is currently ranked eighth in California by MaxPreps, while the Broncos are 13th. Because the Wolverines threw Deere and Golob heavily on Tuesday, they will be expected to start Paul Giacomazzi ’16 on Thursday, while the Broncos will likely throw Jack Moberg ’16. The winner of the matchup will advance to the Round of 16 next Tuesday against the winner of El Dorado vs. Tustin.

A recap of Tuesday’s game from the Los Angeles Times, including some video highlights, can be seen here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/highschool/varsity-times/la-sp-vi-baseball-harvardwestlake-outlasts-mater-dei-1110-20150519-story.html