The first third of Rancho Santiago's lineup was the difference Saturday as the Dons beat Riverside, 10-5, in a Southern California baseball playoff game at Rancho Santiago.
The three--Matt Kastelic, Tony Truel and Derek Brown--were a combined eight for 15, with seven runs scored and five runs batted in. Darren Troilo, the No. 4 hitter, had one hit but drove in two runs.
Match that with the pitching of Brandon Hoalton, and the Dons (37-8) are one victory away from the State tournament, which starts Saturday at Sacramento College.
Rancho Santiago plays host to Riverside at 11 a.m. today. Riverside advanced by beating Chaffey, 10-1, Saturday afternoon.
Kastelic, a freshman left fielder, has been the team's hottest hitter in the postseason. He is 11 for 16 in four games, hitting .447 overall.
Truel, a sophomore center fielder, had three singles, drove in two runs, and scored two.
Riverside had scored three times in the first but Truel's third-inning single cut the lead to 3-1.
Brown worked it to a 3-and-1 count before lining a home run over the left-center field fence to put the Dons ahead, 4-3.
Brown added a double as Rancho Santiago scored three times in the fifth to lead, 8-3.
Chris Lugo and Ryan Andersen also had two hits for Rancho Santiago.
Hoalton, a freshman right-hander, has been bothered by a sore arm and was pitching for the first time in two weeks.
He allowed three runs and five hits in the first inning but recovered to allow six hits and two runs over the next seven innings to improve to 11-0.
"He was rusty," Rancho Santiago Coach Don Sneddon said. "We just wanted to get him out of the first inning because we knew he would get tougher as the game went along."
Jason Dietrich (5-1) is expected to start today for Rancho Santiago.
In a losers' bracket game:
Chaffey 12, Cypress 10--Cypress rallied with five runs in the eighth inning and four runs in the ninth but fell short when Kevin Clark popped to short with the bases loaded. Cypress finishes 29-17.
Armondo Sanchez hit two two-run homers for Chaffey, which led, 12-2, at one point. Keith McDonald hit a grand slam in the eighth for the Chargers.