Robbie Szente and Tim Moore each had two hits and two runs batted in as La Habra High School scored a 9-6 victory over Irvine in a Southern Section 4-A wild-card game Tuesday at Irvine.
La Habra (14-8) led, 8-3, after four innings, but Irvine (13-13) took advantage of two walks and a hit batter in the fifth to score its first two runs of the inning on Scott Brandino's sacrifice fly and Steve Nessl's run-scoring grounder.
After La Habra starter Tom Juarez (4-3) walked Mike Booker and Bowen Ota to load the bases, Moore, who began the game at shortstop, came in to pitch and walked Randy Martin to cut the lead to 8-6.
Moore, however, got Jeff Pincus to hit into a force play for the third out.
La Habra got an insurance run in the seventh on Dave Karaba's RBI double.
Mike Morris, who started the game at second base, shut out Irvine the last two innings despite yielding three seventh-inning walks.
"That's what happens in a typical CIF elimination game," said La Habra Coach Paul Thomas, whose team will travel to San Gabriel for a first-round game Friday. "They have a lot of heart. We thought we had them down when we got the big lead, but they never gave up."
Terry Rahmatulla, who doubled to lead off the Irvine first, scored the game's first run two outs later on Brandino's ground-ball single. Brandino, who went to second when Nessl legged out a deep grounder to Moore, then scored the Vaqueros' second run on Booker's single.
The Highlanders, who were the recipients of five walks and a hit batsman by Vaquero starter Dave Goldstein (6-5), took advantage of three of the walks in the second to take a 3-2 lead on Goldstein's bases-loaded balk and Szente's two-run triple.
John Bretza, who replaced Goldstein after Szente's triple, could fare no better. With one out in the third, Moore doubled to center. After Bretza struck out Jamie Hutcherson for the second out, Moore scored on Nick Sciacca's single.
La Habra scored four more runs in the fourth on Moore's two-run pop-fly double that fell between three fielders and RBI singles by Hutcherson and Morris.
The Vaqueros cut La Habra's lead to 8-3 in the fourth when Booker, who singled and advanced to second on Juarez's balk, scored when Bowen Ota's grounder went through Morris' legs for an error.
In a 5-A wild-card game:
Los Alamitos 16, Bishop Montgomery 0--Three Los Alamitos pitchers scattered three hits in a lopsided victory at Torrance Park. Starter Todd Gragnano gave up two hits in four-plus innings and got the victory. Sal Mancuso knocked in four runs with a single and a double and he scored twice. Anthony Napolitano had two RBIs on three hits and scored four runs. Los Alamitos (14-13) will play Friday at Culver City.
In the small schools wild-card game:
Claremont 8, St. Margaret's 5--Bob Tipton had two doubles and five RBIs to lead visiting Claremont (9-8). Tipton broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run double in the sixth. Rich Barona (2-7) pitched the first five innings for the victory. Jeff Hilgers had three hits, including two doubles and three RBIs for St. Margaret's (7-12).