By Steve Breazeale
The Dana Hills baseball team deployed its top two pitching arms in an effort to beat visiting El Dorado in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs on May 23 but it was not enough.
The Golden Eagles, powered by leadoff hitter Jesse Lopez’s four-hit effort, shut out the Dolphins in a 6-0 victory to advance to the quarterfinals and end Dana Hills’ season.
Dolphins (17-14) coach Tom Faris gave the nod to starter Jack Sterner, who had problems keeping the top of the El Dorado lineup off the basepaths in the early innings.
El Dorado took a 1-0 lead in the third when Garrett Stark singled home Lopez from second base, and Sterner exited the game with two runners on and one out in the fourth. Faris turned to standout pitcher Hans Crouse, the hero in the Dolphins’ first-round win over Harvard-Westlake, to get out of the jam.
Lopez quickly laced a two-out double off Crouse to score two more and give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
In the fifth, El Dorado’s cleanup hitter Augie Mattei lifted a ball over the left-field wall for a solo home run and a 4-0 lead. Lopez belted a two-run home run in the sixth to pad the lead and close out the scoring.
“You could tell (Crouse) need more rest but he’s a competitor and he wanted to give me nine outs today,” Faris said. “That was the plan but it obviously didn’t work out, and we didn’t score any runs.”
Lopez went 4 for 4 with two doubles, a home run, two runs and four RBI.
The Dolphins’ lineup was stymied by El Dorado starter Austin Spinney, who pitched six strong innings of shutout ball. Spinney gave up five hits and walked three.
The loss ended what was a special season for the Dolphins’ program. The team won 17 games and placed second in the Sea View League, but the highlight of the year came in March when the team traveled to North Carolina to play in USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational tournament.
The Dolphins won three games and barnstormed their way to the tournament championship, where they lost to Orange Lutheran.
“We have some pretty dynamic people on this team and had a great group of kids. Personality-wise, there’s never going to be another team like it,” Faris said.