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Mater Dei baseball rallies to beat Santa Margarita as Jack Kirrer strikes out 13

SANTA ANA >> Mater Dei baseball coach Richard Mercado has made a habit of telling his players to expect a dogfight in every Trinity League game they play, and Friday night was no exception.

The Monarchs fell behind early but rallied to take the lead with Jimmy DeAnda’s go-ahead, two-run home run, and Jack Kirrer pitched a complete-game gem to beat Santa Margarita 4-2 on Friday night at Mater Dei High.

“It’s nothing new for these guys, they’ve been through it,” Mercado said. “I’m proud because they looked more calm than they ever have. They’ve been through tough games, they’ve been through grinds on the winning side and the losing side, but these guys are ready for these type of games.”

Kirrer allowed four hits and struck out 13 batters in seven innings with only one walk. He settled in nicely after giving up a pair of runs in the first inning.

The Eagles (13-5, 4-5), ranked fourth in Orange County, took a 2-0 lead in the opening frame when Luke Lavin’s single brought Blake Balsz and Ian Grogan home. Lavin was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double.

Kirrer then struck out Blake Wilson and Jake Lavin to end the first frame.

In the bottom half of the first, the Monarchs (10-7, 3-6) had runners on the corners with one out and got a run on the board when Santa Margarita failed to turn two on DeAnda’s grounder. The Eagles got the force at second base but a throwing error to first allowed Cade O’Hara to score and make it 2-1.

Santa Margarita committed two more errors in the second inning and Mater Dei’s Derek Gonzales crossed plate to tie the game, 2-2.

Mater Dei’s Ethan Hedges (3 for 3) hit a leadoff single in the third and then DeAnda smacked an offering from Collin Clarke over the left field fence to give Mater Dei a 4-2 lead.

“They (Hedges and DeAnda) were huge for us. Jimmy with the two-run bomb, that was the thing put us over the top right there,” Mercado said. “Energy-wise and momentum-wise, the way Jack was throwing, I think we could’ve got up by one and be OK, but I’m happy we got two (runs). A little less stress for a head coach.”

Kirrer took control of the game from that point and collected 10 strikeouts in the final four innings. He struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings.

Santa Margarita coach Chris Malec was ejected in the bottom of the sixth by the home plate umpire.

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