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Mission Viejo baseball shows patience as role players contribute to take down Ayala

Diablos draw nine walks during a 7-3 win

Mission VIejo outfielder Hunter Pogue looks to cross home plate during a high school baseball game against Ayala, Wednesday, April 5, 2023 during the Ryan Lemmon Invitational at the Great Park Stadium in Irvine, Calif. Mission VIejo won the game, 7-3. (Ryan Kuhn, SOCoPrepSports.com)

IRVINE — Mission Viejo baseball coach Daniel Holley constantly talks about being patient at the plate. 

So his Diablos took it to heart when they took the field at the Great Park Stadium,

Mission Viejo drew nine walks, with a pair coming around to score in a 7-3 win over Ayala, concluding the Ryan Lemmon Invitational on Wednesday afternoon.

“We were very disciplined at the plate today,” Holley said afterwards. “We talk about getting good pitches in good counts and we battling with two strikes. Winning those at-bats are key for us.”

Mission Viejo was unable to get its offense going for the first two innings but Keenan Anzai brought in the first run drawing a bases loaded walk. 

Anzai has made an impact to say the least this season holding a .475 batting average with 17 RBIs. 

But Holley said Anzai is no longer a secret. 

“Word is getting out,” Holley said.”He’s seen a lot more off-speed pitches lately but he is very good knowing the count and what he can do, it’s not really affecting him that much.”

The Diablos broke the game wide open in the fourth inning after Ayala walked five more batters. Anzai plated another RBI after he was walked a second time while Seth Mannos lined a single up the middle. 

“I’ve been kind of struggling lately but I went hitting early with my buddy Jack Boucher,” Mannos said. “It was nice just clearing my head a bit.”

Mannos finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBIs and while the team is on a break from South Coast League play, the coaching staff has used this time out of necessity to see what its role players can do.

“This whole week we have played guys who haven’t had many opportunities and they came through,” Holley said. “It’s really helped us out.”

Outfielder Hunter Pogue was another example of a player earning opportunities.

Pogue played the field in just eight games but has had five of his seven hits over the last week. 

“Guys like Hunter have shown when we get back into league next week, we can use him,” Holley said. 

Mission Viejo gave up a run in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth inning but kept its lead in tact to finish the tournament with three wins. 

Now it looks toward a meeting with defending league champion Tesoro. Last year the Diablos swept the season series and will look to use the momentum from Spring Break to climb the South Coast League standings. 

They are very disciplined,” Holley said of Tesoro. “They have a lot of returning players and some good arms on the mound. It’ll be a battle.”

Ryan was born and raised in Dana Point went to Dana Hills High School. He graduated from Sacramento State University with a BA in Journalism. Throughout his career as a sports journalist, he has covered high schools, colleges, and professional teams. After working for multiple newspapers in as many states, he came to the conclusion that what he really wanted was to make sure the high schools in his hometown area got the sports coverage they deserved. Follow him on Twitter @rskuhn

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