Having seen its school’s girls’ swim and track teams win CIF-Southern Section titles in the previous two weeks, Santa Margarita’s baseball team got itself a piece of the championship action May 18, even if it took a while.

In a thrilling Division 2 final contest at Dodger Stadium, the Eagles went 12 innings to defeat Norco, 1-0, gaining its second CIF-SS baseball championship. Milan Tolentino’s sacrifice fly in the top of the 12th drove in Jack Collins with the game’s only run, and Spencer Edwards — with six and a third innings of one-hit relief pitching — closed out matters in the bottom of the 12th.

Seeded ninth when the tournament began, the Eagles — finishing with a school record 26 wins against 11 losses — won six playoff games, starting with a wild-card win over Kaiser, then beating Tahquitz, Damien, El Segundo, Redondo Union and Norco. Santa Margarita was led by second-year head coach Chris Malec, a former All-Serra League infielder for the Eagles who later played in the Boston Red Sox’ minor league system and successfully battled cancer.

Santa Margarita’s championship is the first CIF-SS baseball title for a Los Angeles or Orange Catholic school since Santa Margarita (D-1) and Bishop Amat (D-3) won titles in 2014. This was the Eagles’ fourth finals appearance, having lost the D-III championship games in 1995 to La Quinta and 2002 to Arlington before winning in 2014, 3-1 over Foothill, with David Bacani as head coach.

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News). 

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