Philly Dog is a decent nickname for Phil Mangram, Mission Viejo High School's No. 9 hitter.
But considering Mangram's recent power-hitting exploits, his Diablo teammates are going to have to come up with something more appropriate.
Like Mighty Mangram. Or Philler-Buster.
Mangram has been anything but a dog this week.
The senior, who hit a grand slam in Mission Viejo's victory over Santa Clara on Tuesday, hit another home run Friday--this one a solo shot against Diamond Bar that tied the score, 2-2, in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Brendan Murphy, Mission Viejo's No. 8 hitter, lined a two-out RBI double to right field in the bottom of the sixth to lift the Diablos to a 3-2 victory over the top-seeded Brahmas in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section 2-A playoffs at Mission Viejo High.
The win avenged Mission Viejo's 3-2 loss to Diamond Bar in last year's 2-A championship game. The Diablos (19-6), third-place finishers in the South Coast League, will play Suburban League champion Artesia in Tuesday's semifinals. The Brahmas closed at 21-5.
Mangram's home run was a shocker. The Diablos appeared to have a rally going in the fifth when Tony Arnone reached on an error, but Murphy lined a shot back to pitcher Jimmy Edmonds, who caught the ball and threw to first in time to get pinch-runner Eric Eckdall.
The double play silenced the large crowd and the Diablo dugout. Mangram, the next hitter, then fell behind 1-2 on the count. But he popped Edmonds' next pitch over the short left-field fence for a game-tying home run that rekindled his teammates and the fans.
In the sixth, Don Roberson reached on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch by reliever Kraig Washington. Arnone then walked and Murphy followed with a line drive over the head of Edmonds in right to score Roberson with the go-ahead run.
That wasn't all the drama.
Curtis Ledesma and Edmonds opened the top of the seventh with singles off Diablo pitcher Jack Bailey. Kyle Shuler's sacrifice bunt attempt rolled foul.
Instead of trying another bunt, Diamond Bar Coach Dennis Paul decided to let Shuler swing. Shuler, who had doubled in his previous at-bat, hit a hard grounder to third baseman Arnone, who turned it into a 5-4-3 double play.
With the tying run on third, Bailey, a junior right-hander, got Frank Galindo to ground out to second baseman David Hori to end the game.
"That was a great ballgame," Mission Viejo Coach Ron Drake said. "The big play was taking the bunt off and the guy hitting into a double play. It's nice to come back and turn things around after last year."
Bailey, who allowed eight hits and struck out five to improve to 9-4, also pitched out of a jam in the sixth inning. Washington and Larry Vladic both singled with one out, and Washington took third on a fly ball to right field.
Up came 6-6 sophomore first baseman Brian Hendrick, the son of Angel outfielder George Hendrick, who had lined a solo home run to left field in the second inning.
Vladic stole second, but Bailey struck out Hendrick with a hard curve to end the inning.
Mangram also had a hand in the Diablos' first run, which they scored in the third inning. Arnone walked, advanced to third on Murphy's single and scored when Mangram hit into a double play.
But it was Mangram's power surge that dominated postgame conversation.
"All of a sudden, the home runs are starting to come," said Mangram, who is 5-7 and 135 pounds. "I don't know what the thing is, but it sure feels good."
Mangram will always remember Friday's home run, the second of his varsity career, and so will his father, Saddleback Coach Bob Mangram.
Bob kept the motor drive on his camera rolling during the home run and took 18 pictures of the event.