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Santa Margarita tops Trabuco Hills in high-scoring baseball playoff game

MISSION VIEJO – Trinity League coaches and athletes say it all the time, that playing in that league is a great way to prepare for what’s to come.

“Every single game is a like a playoff game,” said Santa Margarita junior first baseman Luke Lavin. “You can’t take a pitch off, you can’ take a second off, because if you do the other team is going to get you.”

Santa Margarita, the No. 4 team from the Trinity League, defeated Sea View League champion Trabuco Hills 13-10 on Friday in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 first-round playoff game at Trabuco Hills High.

The Eagles (19-10) will play at Foothill (19-9) in a second-round game Tuesday. Foothill was one of four teams that had a first-round bye in Division 1.

Santa Margarita had 14 hits, and Trabuco Hills (23-6) had 12.

Lavin, who committed to Stanford, was 4 for 4 with four RBIs, four runs scored and a walk.

Eagles junior catcher Blake Balsz, a UCLA commit, was 3 for 4 with a two-run home run and four runs scored. Sophomore right fielder Logan de Groot, another UCLA commit, had three hits and an RBI, and Washington-committed junior shortstop Blake Wilson had two hits.

Trabuco Hills junior shortstop Will Burns, who committed to Texas Tech, hit two sky-high, two-run homers. Mustangs junior third baseman Bobby Gray had three hits, including a double, and scored three runs.

Senior left fielder Tyler Collins hit a two-run homer and a single, and junior catcher Garrett Strenger and senior shortstop Drew Barrett contributed two hits each.

Santa Margarita coach Chris Malec, whose team was swept by Orange Lutheran in a three-game Trinity League series last week, suspected Friday’s game would be a high-scoring one.

“They (the Mustangs) have a really potent ball club,” Malec said. “They’re going to score a lot of runs, and we had to take our punches and just continue to stay after it. Our guys did a tremendous job of doing that.”

The offense started early. Santa Margarita’s three solid hits in the top of the first led to a 2-0 lead.

Trabuco Hills scored three runs, including Burns’ first two-run homer, to take a 3-2 lead.

Santa Margarita tied it in the top of the third, Trabuco Hills scored three in the bottom of the inning to go ahead 6-3 and Balsz’s homer in the top of the fourth made it 6-5.

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