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Mancilla Has Problems, but Costa Mesa Still Wins

April 28, 1999|DAN ARRITT

When Costa Mesa right-hander Ruben Mancilla felt a pop in his pitching elbow during a Pacific Coast League baseball game Tuesday against Laguna Hills, the Mustangs appeared ready to deflate.

But Costa Mesa regrouped behind clutch relief pitching from sophomore Carlos Franco and freshman Nick Cabico and defeated the Hawks, 9-8, at Laguna Hills.

The Mustangs, who can clinch a playoff spot Friday with a victory over Laguna Hills, trailed, 4-2, with one out in the fourth inning, when Mancilla (7-0) let go of a 1-2 fastball and then summoned Coach Kirk Bauermeister to the mound.

"I heard my elbow pop," Mancilla said. "I think I tried to throw it a little too hard and didn't follow my mechanics."

Bauermeister called on Franco, who threw two straight balls to walk Jeff Fischer, then gave up a bunt single to Justin Hallenbeck, which loaded the bases.

Ryan Johnson, the Hawks' top home run hitter, then stepped up and took three straight balls before striking out on a low, outside fastball. Franco then got leading-hitter Danny Lee to fly out to right and end the inning.

"It didn't look good at the time, but our kids will battle," Bauermeister said. "They don't give in on an at-bat, they don't give in on a play. If somebody is going to beat us, they're going to have to beat us because were not going to give it away."

Costa Mesa, which has come from behind in nine of its 11 victories this season, then sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the fifth, scoring seven runs to take a 9-4 lead.

Franco (2-1) got two outs in the sixth, but then gave up a three-run homer to Johnson, followed by a solo shot by Lee, which cut the lead to 9-8.

In came Cabico, who walked Brian Anderson, but then got Chris Lee to hit into an inning-ending groundout. Cabico then came back in the seventh and walked the lead-off batter, but then struck out three of the next four batters to end the game.

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