Santa Margarita had more to lose going into the game than Servite did. It was Senior Night at SM, and all of the players’ parents were there to honor the boys in their long year and season. SM needed a win to guarantee playoff birth. But all of this only served as motivation for the Eagles. After the touching opening ceremony with the parents and the players, both teams took the field in what would be a close fight to the finish. Servite was first up at bat with Bill Heistler pitching for SM. Things got off to a rocky start for Santa Margarita with Heistler walking his first two batters; one of them was able to find his way home before SM could make their third out. With the score 0-1 Servite, the SM boys doubled their energy and hit the ground running in the second inning. Josh Meyer was first up at bat for SM in the second, and quickly hit a line drive straight to center field, earning him a spot at first base. Meyer was soon hit home by Austin Ponzi, who was next up at bat and next to hit a single. Ponzi’s luck soon ran out, however, when he was pickled between 3rd and home, giving Servite their third out.
The next tense moment came when Servite’s Thomas O’Cooney tried to steal second base and was tagged out by SM’s Dillon Miyashiro. The out gave a huge boost of energy to the SM dugout, which was further fueled by the roar of approval from their booster section. Servite wasn’t down for the count yet though; with Michael Flynn sliding home after a deep hit by McKay Koissian, it was clear that the boys in black still had more to say. SM responded with an all-star duo of their own: Andrew Thompson and JJ Carr. Carr started things off by hitting a double to left field, and then Thompson came in right behind him and hit him home with a bouncer, tying the game 2-2. From then on it was a sharp back-and-forth between the two sides: both teams searching for a foothold with which to climb to the top. Then came Carr’s insane catch in the fourth inning. As Joseph Prior of Servite hit the ball out to left field, Carr made a diving catch right for the ball, barely securing it in his glove. The crowd jumped to their feet and Carr was mobbed by his ecstatic teammates as he headed back to the dugout to take his place in the batting order. “It was a huge play,” said SM outfielder Tony Bone. “That really took our momentum in to win it.”
With the tide turned in SM’s favor and momentum on their side, the Eagles started to pull ahead of Servite offensively. The final blow to the Friars came when Thompson secured a position on third after a controversial call by the refs. With Thompson ready to run home, SM just needed one single to put them in the lead, and Tyler Halleck was ready to deliver that single. Halleck stepped up to the plate and made contact with the ball on his third attempt, allowing Thompson to run home and SM to take the lead 3-2. Despite their best efforts, the Friars were not able to bring home another run in the short amount of time remaining in the game. As the final seconds ticked away, the SM boys rushed the field from the dugout to celebrate their victory and assured seed in the playoffs. But which players would the Eagles be relying on most in the playoffs? “It’s gonna take everybody to step up to go far in the playoffs,” said SM catcher Josh Meyer. “And hopefully we’ll be at CIF.” As far as Senior Nights go, this one stole home for the Eagles.