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    Damien’s season ends with loss to Mater Dei in CIF-SS baseball playoffs
    • May 4, 2024

    LA VERNE – The season came to a screeching halt for the Damien baseball team Friday with a 5-0 loss to visiting Mater Dei in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

    “That’s never the way you want to end a season,” Spartans coach A.J. LaMonde said. “But I’m really proud of our team. We battled our way past an early bump in the road and we had our chances but didn’t execute the way we wanted.”

    The Baseline League champions ran into a buzzsaw against Mater Dei’s UCLA-bound pitcher Wylan Moss, who struck out six and allowed only four hits while picking up his sixth win of the season.

    The Monarchs scored three runs in the second inning, taking advantage of a hit batter, a wild pitch and a perfectly executed sacrifice by shortstop Braden Ruiz.

    Sam Tucci singled to lead off the inning and Dylan Wetzel was hit by a pitch before the Ruiz sacrifice bunt.

    Lawson Olmstead followed with a single that drove in one run and Antonio Ganem doubled in another.

    That brought in Spartans reliever Nathan Ries, who gave up a sacrifice fly but struck out six Monarchs and held them to one hit until the seventh inning.

    Mater Dei advances to Tuesday’s second round. It will be home against No. 1 Corona, which beat El Dorado 1-0 Friday.

    “Playoff baseball is crazy,” Monarchs coach Richard Mercado said. “Their guy was a little erratic early but we scrapped a couple of runs in the second and we always feel if we score first with Wylan on the mound, we have a great chance to win. Once you put a couple on the board it puts the other team on defense.”

    Ganem led the Monarchs with three hits and made a running catch and crashed into the center field fence on a deep drive by the Spartans’ Nikko Paoletto.

    “He’s a fantastic defender,” Mercado said. “Probably one of the best out there, maybe a right-handed Jim Edmonds. That was a fantastic play for a high school kid.”

    The Spartans (16-11-1) didn’t get a hit until Jason Kidder singled with one out in the third.

    They had a chance to get back in the game in the fifth inning when Ty Trancredi led off with a double. Devin Perez reached on an infield single with Trancredi holding at third.

    An attempted safety squeeze went back to the pitcher and Trancredi was caught in a rundown.

    Moss got a strike out and a flyout to get out of the jam and that was it for the Spartans.

    “Those three runs in the second gave us a lot of confidence,” Moss said. “That (catch by Ganem) was a crazy play. The ball went up and kept going and it was a crazy catch. It’s good to have that defense. Other than the first inning and that inning they got runners on first and second, I thought I was really efficient today.”

    The Monarchs picked up a couple of insurance runs in the seventh inning when Connors drove in two runs.

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    ​ Orange County Register