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By Steve Breazeale
It was not the best timing to have a hiccup of a game for the Dana Hills baseball team.
The Dolphins, who needed a win over El Toro on the final day of the season to wrap up second place in the South Coast League and avoid a wild card play-in game or a match against a top seed, were instead handed a lopsided 8-2 loss.
Dana Hills (24-7, 6-6 league) settled for third place in league, behind first-place Capistrano Valley and Aliso Niguel.
The Dolphins were bailed out of a worst-case scenario, where they would miss the playoffs entirely, thanks to Capistrano Valley defeating Aliso Niguel 2-1 on May 13. The Dolphins, Aliso Niguel and Tesoro all finished league play with 6-6 records, but Dana Hills and Aliso Niguel each held the season tiebreaker over Tesoro, which left the Titans on the outside looking in at fourth place.
The top three teams from the South Coast League will represent the group in the postseason.
For a moment it looked like the Dolphins had a good chance, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning behind an RBI double and an RBI single from David Clawson and Shawn Kany, respectively.
But El Toro (17-14, 5-7) responded by sending eight batters to the plate in the bottom of the third, collecting RBI hits from Tyler Lasch, Andy Krear and Josh Zamora.
The one-run cushion would be all Chargers starting pitcher Kaleb Fossum needed. The senior left hander turned in a complete game effort, allowing six hits, three walks while striking out five. He worked quickly and displayed a quick-pitch, slide-step maneuver that held the Dolphins baserunners on and agitated the Dolphins batters.
Crouse pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up 11 hits and seven runs. The Chargers were especially effective in getting to Crouse and the Dolphins defense with two outs. El Toro scored a total of six runs in two-out situations.
The eight runs allowed was the most the Dolphins had given up all season.
“It was the worst game we played all year, from top to bottom,” Dana Hills head coach Tom Faris said. “You play the worst game of the season on the last day of the season it’s not going to help (going) into the playoffs. The good thing is it will be erased and we can start fresh. It’s a brand new season.”
Dana Hills entered their final three-game stretch coming off back to back league losses. But the Dolphins pulled off an extra inning win over Capistrano Valley and a 1-0 victory over the Chargers on May 12.
The CIF-SS Division 1 playoff brackets will be released on May 18 at 9 a.m.