MISSION VIEJO – Capistrano Valley was in a comfortable spot. The Cougars had broken a one-all tie in the fifth inning with back-to-back RBI singles from Riley Kasper and Ryan Daugherty to retake the lead against Palm Desert with two innings to go.
Then in a flash, it was all gone.
In the top of the sixth, Palm Desert got its first two batters on base and Jeremiah Estrada blasted a three-run home run to left field to put the Aztecs ahead for good and defeat Capistrano Valley, 4-3, in a CIF-SS Division 2 semifinal on Tuesday at Capistrano Valley High.
“We hit the batter, then the single, then the home run. Boom,” Capistrano Valley coach Bob Zamora said. “The guy (Estrada) did it to Edison and did it again to us. He’s quite the player.”
Palm Desert (23-7), which rallied to beat Edison, 3-2, in the quarterfinals, advances to the Division 2 title game Friday at Dodger Stadium against Etiwanda of Rancho Cucamonga.
Capistrano Valley (19-14) had followed up a six-game losing streak with a six-game winning streak to make the playoffs and push their way into the semifinals.
“It’s tough,” Zamora said of the season-ending loss. “We were on the brink of elimination back with our final two league games against San Clemente. We lose that first game, and we don’t go to the playoffs.
“We had been given a second chance, and that’s all we needed.”
Capo Valley grabbed its first lead in the third inning. Joey Holman led off with a single and scored on a single by Daugherty.
Palm Desert came right back to tie the score in the fourth with a score off an errant throw on a double-play attempt.
The bottom of the Cougars’ order played a role in the team’s first run and came through again in the fifth.
Danny Tiotuico led off with a walk, and Blake Fitzgerald followed with a bunt single. At the top of the order, Kasper singled to score Tiotuico, and Daughtery followed with his second RBI.
“We’re superstitious in baseball,” Zamora said. “That lineup…