Continuing a roller-coaster ride of a season that has been on the upswing when it counts the most, Santa Margarita has advanced to the Division 2 finals of the CIF-Southern Section Baseball Tournament.

On May 14, the ninth-seeded Eagles (25-11) dominated Redondo Union 9-1, and will play Norco (20-11) for the D-2 championship on May 18 at Dodger Stadium, 3 p.m. Santa Margarita (D-1) and Bishop Amat (D-3) are the last local Catholic schools to win CIF-SS baseball titles (in 2014), although La Salle was a D-3 finalist in 2018.

Although their record is 25-11, the Eagles have endured several slumps, losing five in a row in March, then winning 14 of 15 before losing their last three regular season games to J.Serra. That left Santa Margarita third in the Trinity League at 8-7, behind national power Orange Lutheran (14-1) and J.Serra (9-6).

In the playoffs, the Eagles had to win a D-2 wild-card game (3-2 over Kaiser) just to reach the 32-team main bracket. Since then, Santa Margarita has beaten Tahquitz (7-1), Damien (4-2), El Segundo (4-0) and Redondo Union.

Elsewhere in the CIF-SS Playoffs, St. Anthony rallied late but lost 8-5 to Rio Hondo Prep in a Division 6 semifinal. The Saints (15-13) fell behind 6-2 in the third inning, 8-3 in the fifth and couldn’t come all the way back.

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

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