COSTA MESA — Near the bleachers behind the backstop at Estancia High, the Paul Troxel Trophy was in full display. The trophy is what the Estancia and Costa Mesa baseball programs play for each year.
The winner of the rivalry gets to ring the trophy toward the end of Orange Coast League play. A teenager rang it in the first inning of the league opener between the Eagles and Mustangs on Friday.
It might have been premature to do so, but the sound is an all too familiar one for the Eagles. And from the sound of things, they are confident the trophy is going to stay at Estancia for the fourth straight year, even though two more games remain in the Battle for the Bell series.
The Eagles scored four runs in the first and went on to win, 10-2. The victory is their eighth in a row against Costa Mesa.
Half of those victories have been blowouts, with Estancia scoring in double digits each time. What mattered to Estancia Coach Nate Goellrich is that his Eagles produced double-digit runs for the first time this season.
"Our offense is starting to come alive," said Goellrich, whose team collected 13 hits, two of which were doubles. "We kind of struggled in the beginning of the year, but we knew that we've been facing some top-of-the-line pitching. We knew eventually [our offense] was going break through."
Goellrich has seen his team dominate the Mustangs almost every time since he took over at Estancia last season. In the last three matchups between the schools, the Eagles have outscored Costa Mesa, 46-4.
Pitching has slowed down the Mustangs' bats during the stretch. It was Steven Macias' turn on the mound Friday, going the distance for Estancia (5-2, 1-0 in league).
The right-hander struck out six and allowed two runs and five hits. His only bad inning came in the second in which he gave up two runs, three singles and walked one.
If it were up to catcher Jackson Letterman, most of that wouldn't have happened. He took his mask off and began to jog back to the dugout after throwing out a baserunner trying to steal second. The home fans reminded Letterman there were only two out, not three like he believed.
He returned behind the plate, only to see the Mustangs (2-4, 0-1) cut the deficit in half. Geoff Fulkerson singled in a run, and another came home after a throw to the plate sailed over Letterman's head.
Macias got out of the inning with a pop fly.
"After that bad inning, you know, I just went out there and erased everything, flushed it, and I got off to a good start again," said Macias, who began to throw his curveball for strikes after the second inning.
That helped Macias record his second complete game of his senior season, as did throwing first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 26 batters he faced.
The run support was there for Macias, who improved to 2-1. He helped himself out by hitting a two-run double to left field in the first inning.
Macias went two for two with three runs batted in and a walk. Ben Beck, Letterman, Dylan Reyes and Tyler Rios also had two hits apiece for Estancia, which impressed Costa Mesa first-year head coach Paul Grady.
"They do a good job. They pitch. They throw strikes. They play a good defense," Grady of the Eagles, who have won two straight. "We made a lot of mistakes. We walked eight guys. When you walk eight guys, you're not going to win that many baseball games.
"We're really young and we're learning, and every game that we play is another chance to get better. When we played the game the right way, we did fine. I got four freshmen (left fielder Grady Conner, third baseman Ryan Lether, shortstop James Barton and first baseman Mason Tufuga) starting. Game experience for them is huge."
Orange Coast League
Estancia 10, Costa Mesa 2
SCORE BY INNINGS
Mesa 020 000 0 - 2 5 2
Estancia 430 021 x - 10 13 1
Fisher, Barton (6), Lether (6) and Kistler; Macias and Letterman. W - Macias, 2-1. L – Fisher. 2B - Macias (E), Rodriguez (E).