Dana Point Times
Dana Hills senior left-handed pitcher Kayl Cota pitched a total of just five innings over a five-week stretch before he was handed the ball in the Dolphins biggest game of the season on May 18.
Cota, who started off the season as the Dolphins No. 2 starter, was nursing a shoulder injury for most of the year but took the mound against Great Oak in a CIF-SS Division 1 wild card game with his team’s season on the line.
It turned out Cota was ready to go.
Cota pitched a complete game shutout, allowing only four hits while striking out nine, in a 4-0 victory that pushed the Dolphins through into the first round of the playoffs.
Dana Hills will travel to play top-seeded JSerra in the first round on May 20.
The win was Cota’s third on the season and his first victory since March 18.
The Dolphins (14-16) got to Great Oak’s ace, Zack Noll, in the fourth inning when Max Mircovich stole second and was doubled in by Jeremy Ciolek for a 1-0 lead. Mircovich delivered a two-out single in the fifth that scored Chad Morgan for a 2-0 advantage. Ciolek, who is batting a blistering .357 with a team-leading 21 RBI, singled in Matt Garlan in the fifth to cap a Dolphins rally and make it 3-0.
Cota faced a bases loaded situation in the fifth inning, but escaped the jam.
Dana Hills’ Joey DeBaca hit a solo home run in the sixth to close out the scoring.
By starting Cota in the wild card game, the Dolphins will have their ace, junior Hans Crouse, rested for the May 20 tilt against the Lions. JSerra has been atop the CIF-SS Division 1 polls for most of the season and are the Trinity League champions.