Santa Ana Mater Dei, ranked No. 1 in Southern California and No. 1 in the nation in high school baseball, faced a severe challenge on Friday night from UCLA-bound junior pitcher Griffin Canning of Santa Margarita.
For eight innings, the Monarchs couldn't score against Canning. And when Santa Margarita pushed across a run in the top of the ninth inning on an errant throw after a bunt, Mater Dei seemed in big trouble.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Monarchs got a leadoff single by Jeremy Martinez. He made it to third with two outs. Canning was one strike away from victory. He worked a 1-and-2 count on Brian Soper, but on Canning's 111th pitch, Soper delivered a run-scoring single to right field to tie the score.
Out went Canning and in came Bill Heisler. Soper stole second. Then Davis Tominaga gave Mater Dei a 2-1 victory when he reached first base on a high throw as Soper was able to race home from second and beat the throw to the plate with a perfect slide.
It was Mater Dei's 19th consecutive victory since a 1-0, season-opening loss to Stockton St. Mary's. The Monarchs improved to 9-0 in the Trinity League.
Canning struck out eight, walked none and gave up seven hits for the Eagles (11-10, 3-6).
Mater Dei pitchers were able to match him. Left-hander Jacob Erickson threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings, giving him 24 1/3 innings as a starting pitcher without surrendering a run. Aaron Cross pitched the final 3 2/3 innings for the victory, improving to 7-0.