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Aliso Niguel survives late drama to beat Tustin
When Aliso Niguel left fielder Anthony Sommer bobbled the ball that Tustin's Andrew Natividad hit to left field for a single in the bottom of the seventh inning, Tustin coach Joe Secoda made his decision.
Secoda, coaching third base, signaled base runner Andrew Magana to head for home. Sommer got a grip on the baseball and fired it on one bounce to Aliso catcher Brett Sebade. Magana made a head-first slide toward the right side of home plate, but Sebade was there for a sweep tag and the inning's first out.
Aliso Niguel freshman relief pitcher Kyle Molnar got the next two Tustin batters out and the Wolverines beat Tustin, 2-1, Tuesday in a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 second-round playoff game at Tustin.
Aliso Niguel (21-11) will play Valencia (19-13), which beat nationally-ranked Harvard Westlake of North Hollywood, in a quarterfinal game Friday. This is the first season in which Aliso Niguel's baseball team has advanced beyond the second round. Tustin finished 13-17.
Matt Molnar, Kyle's brother and a senior, into the bottom of the seventh inning. When Matt walked Magana to start the seventh, Aliso coach Craig Hanson gave the ball to the freshman brother.
"Even though he's a freshman," Hanson said, "I can't think of a better guy in that situation."
Kyle Molnar is third on the team in innings pitched, and has a 1.37 ERA. His preservation of his brother's victory improved Matt Molnar to 5-4, and Matt has a 1.96 ERA. Senior lefty Brett Barker, 8-1 with a 0.76 ERA is the Wolverines' likely starter Friday.
Aliso scored both of its runs in the fourth inning. Kyle Paris singled, Matt Molnar walked and they were sacrificed to third and second bases, respectively, on Sommer's bunt. Paris scored on Mike Hall's ground out and Molnar scored on Sebade's single.
Also in Division 2:
Valencia 3, Harvard Westlake of North Hollywood 1: In the biggest upset of these playoffs, the Tigers (19-13) eliminated the Wolverines (24-5-1), who were ranked No. 4 in California by CalHiSports and No. 12 in the nation by ESPN. Zach Williams pitched a complete game with nine strikeouts and Ceasar Serna hit a two-run home run for Valencia.
Mission Viejo 9, Damien of La Verne 1: Mitch Holland, who homered twice in a first-round game Thursday, drove in three runs for the visiting Diablos (19-13).
Pacifica 4, Alta Loma 0: Max Bethell pitched a shutout for the host Mariners (25-5).
In Division 1:
Mater Dei 6, Temecula Valley 5: Ty Moore homered and struck out the side in the seventh inning to get the victory in relief for the visiting Monarchs (23-5), who will play Esperanza in the quarterfinals.
Orange Lutheran 7, Vista Murrieta 2: Conner Sullivan went 3 for 4 for the host Lancers (23-4) at Hart Park.
In Division 3:
Beckman 3, Colton 0: Connor Deneen pitched a shutout in his first start of the season for the visiting Patriots (21-7).
In Division 4:
Savanna 4, Nogales 3: Ryan Hartman pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief and AJ Kennedy doubled and scored the winning run in the ninth inning for the host Rebels (24-5).
In Division 6:
St. Margaret's 8, Windward of Los Angeles 2: Harrison White homered and drove in two runs for the visiting Tartans (15-8).