HUNTINGTON BEACH — The opportunities were there for the taking Friday, but the Ocean View baseball team couldn't find a way to take advantage in key situations.
The Seahawks squandered scoring chances against rival Westminster in an showdown that determined the early leader in the Golden West League race. The visiting Lions, meanwhile, made the most of their opportunities and that difference gave them a 5-3 victory.
The win kept Westminster perfect through the first week of league play and put the Lions at 3-0. Ocean View, which had won its first two league games, fell to 2-1.
The Seahawks held a 2-1 lead through three innings but couldn't get to Westminster ace Tyler Mahle or reliever Octavio Valente the rest of the way.
"We played not to lose, instead of playing to win," Ocean View Coach Shane Borowski said. "We had so many opportunities today, but we couldn't convert any of them. Against a team like Westminster, and a pitcher like Mahle, you need to take advantage of every opportunity given you."
Mahle (3-0) struck out the first two Seahawks he faced in the bottom of the third and looked as through he'd get out of the inning with the score knotted at 1-1. With two out, though, Ocean View's Ramon Sepulveda, who started on the mound for the Seahawks, sent a grounder to second base that was mishandled, and Sepulveda reached base safely. Jared Goodman sent a high chopper to the right side of the pitcher's mound that glanced off Mahle's glove, and suddenly, the Seahawks had runners at first and second.
Luke Fell followed Goodman and took a 1-0 pitch for a single into right field that scored Sepulveda. His RBI gave Ocean View its only lead (2-1) of the game.
The Lions, though, had a knack for producing runs with two outs. They did so on three occasions, and it turned the one-run deficit into a 5-2 lead.
The first instance came in the top of the fourth. Westminster's Anthony Orozco sent a slow chopper toward third base that Fell hustled to get, but his throw to first was high and Orozco was safe at first. On the play, Daniel Ramirez, who had singled with one out, scored from third to tie the score.
It was the same scenario in the top of the fifth for the Lions as Valente delivered a single to right field that brought home Matt Alvarez, who had singled with one out. In the sixth, Steven Anderson hit a lead-off double, his second of the game, and pinch runner Josh Peterson scored one out later on the third hit of the game by Chase Esquviel. With two out, Esquviel scored on a single up the middle by Alvarez to make it 5-2.
"You have to give Westminster's hitters credit," Borowski said. "They found ways to create runs and did a great job of keeping innings alive.
"I thought Ramon [Sepulveda] did an excellent job on the mound but that one mistake he made, on an 0-2 count that ended up with that single up the middle, really took the wind out of our sail. You can't get behind like that against a pitcher like Mahle.
After Westminster (7-3) had taken its 5-2 lead through 5 1/2 innings, Valente replaced Mahle on the mound. He did give up a double to Fell to start the sixth, and Fell later scored on an infield groundout by James Wilson, but retired the side in the seventh to earn the save.
Mahle gave up four hits and finished with 10 strikeouts.
"He's a polished pitcher," Borowski said of Mahle. "He has great command of his pitches. But, too many times today, our guys stood there, with the bat on their shoulder. They had chances to take a swing, but they didn't. We were tentative and Westminster wasn't. We lacked mental toughness. This was a game we very well could have won."
Ocean View (3-6) trailed, 1-0, after one inning but scored the tying run in the bottom of the second. Fell and designated hitter Zach Honnes hit back-to-back singles before Wilson followed with a bunt back to the mound. Mahle scooped up the ball but his throw to third, in an attempt to force out Fell, was high and Fell scored on the play.
The Seahawks had two runners on base with nobody out, but on an infield ground out, Honnes took third and Wilson rounded second and headed toward third with his teammate on the bag. Wilson eventually was run down in a pickle for the second out. Mahle then struck out Dallas Broge to get out of the jam.
Sepulveda (0-2), a junior, struck out nine and allowed nine hits. He exited the game after Alvarez's RBI single with two out in the sixth had put the Lions up, 4-2. Fell closed for the Seahawks.
Ocean View travels Tuesday for a 3:15 p.m. league game at Orange. The Seahawks also play a league game Thursday at 7 p.m. against Loara at Glover Stadium in Anaheim.