Tesoro baseball edges Dana Hills in another close one to grab South Coast League lead – Orange County Register

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RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA — When Tesoro baseball coach Tony Nieto needed a clutch performance in one of the biggest games of the season, he turned to a three-year starter who has performed on the biggest stage.

Owen Faust took the mound midway through the seventh inning with no room for error and earned the save in Tesoro’s 6-5 win over Dana Hills in a South Coast League game Friday at Tesoro High.

Tesoro (10-4, 4-2) won two of the three games this week against Dana Hills (5-11, 3-3) to take the lead in the league standings. All three games between the two teams were decided by just one run.

“To quote coach (Bob) Zamora back in the day, ‘It’s just another Friday in the South Coast League,’” Nieto said. “They (Dana Hills) are a good team and we were just a little better today and made some good plays when we needed to.”

The Titans led 6-5 in the seventh inning with one out and runners on the corners when Nieto turned to Faust.

Faust faked a pickoff throw to third and threw the runner out at first base to get the second out. After hitting a batter, Faust got the final out on a ground out to first base to earn the save.

It was a big redemption performance for Faust after blowing the save Wednesday and allowing a walk-off single to Dana Hills in a 5-4 loss.

“I’ve been looking forward to this game since Wednesday and it feels great to get back at it with my guys and get a victory,” Faust said. “If you lose one game, you have to get that win back. Every win is important because the South Coast League is one of the best around.”

Faust also went 2 for 4 at the plate with a triple and two runs batted in.

He is a veteran of big games at Tesoro and was a key contributor on the 2022 team that won CIF-SS and CIF SoCal Regional championships.

“He’s a leader on the team by his actions and we’ve seen the same things from him for three years,” Nieto said. “I probably should have went to him earlier, but I knew that in any situation that we put him in, he’s going to compete for us.”

Tesoro put pressure on Dana Hills early with four runs in the second inning. Brandon McKindley drove in a run on a fielder’s choice and Faust hit a two-run single to give the Titans a 3-0 lead. Tanner Tobias drove in a run with a single to extend the lead to 4-0.

Dana Hills scored its first run on a RBI groundout by Evan Daly in the top of the third.

McKindley hit a two-run double off the wall in left field to give Tesoro a 6-1 lead.

McKindley went 2 for 3 with a double and three RBIs from the No. 8 spot in the lineup.

“It flips the lineup to allow Faust and Tobias to get back up,” Nieto said. “Great job by McKindley. He’s been scuffling a little bit but he’s been working on his swing and was big for us today.”

Brody Bateson, who had the walk-off hit for the Dolphins on Wednesday, hit a run-scoring double in the fifth inning to cut the lead to 6-2.

After a walk by Michael Rodgers and a double by Dane Thompson, Dana Hills scored two runs in the sixth on RBI groundouts by Tyler Baker and Cal State Fullerton signee Grady Faris.

Rodgers hit a run-scoring single in the seventh for Dana Hills before Faust got the save.

Tesoro is in first place in the South Coast League and will play in the Atascadero Spring Break Tournament next week.

“I think we are in a good spot in terms of our grittiness,” Nieto said. “We really strived to be mentally tough this year so that when we play these big games we don’t crack. It’s a good group and everybody contributes.”

Dana Hills will play in the Ryan Lemmon Tournament next week and opens the tournament against Northview.

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