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BILL ALKOFER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
El Toro players celebrate after scoring their first run against Aliso Niguel on Friday. El Toro rallied in the seventh, scoring five runs, to win the game, 7-5.

El Toro stuns No. 5 Aliso Niguel with rally in 7th

STAFF WRITER

ALISO VIEJO - El Toro baseball coach Mike Gonzales called it a character-revealing victory.

In the seventh inning alone Friday, the Chargers showed a few qualities that fit that description as snug as the final out: resilient, gritty and selfless.

All would have done justice to El Toro’s 7-5 victory over No. 5 Aliso Niguel in the South Coast League game at Aliso Niguel High.

The Chargers rallied to claim their league opener by scoring five runs in the seventh inning and then withstood a two-run home run by Blake Sabol in the bottom of the inning.

“It shows a lot of (the) character of our guys,” Gonzales said. “Any time you can win in the South Coast League, especially on the road, it’s huge.”

Aliso Niguel (5-4, 1-1) and starter Zak Nocon led, 3-2, going into the seventh, but El Toro (8-4, 1-0) sent 10 batters to the plate while scoring five runs on four hits.

Andy Krear led off the seventh with a single after falling behind 0-2 in the count. After Josh Zamora sacrificed pinch-runner Dillon Sherman to second, Brandon Helmick drew a walk after falling behind on another 0-2 count.

Gavin Garcia followed by chopping a score-tying single over the third baseman. Reliever Ethan Butka forced a ground ball on his first batter, but an error loaded the bases for Kenny Oyama, who slapped an opposite-field single to left to give the Chargers a 4-3 lead.

Aliso Niguel recorded the second out, but El Toro added the much-needed insurance runs on a passed ball and two-run bloop single by first baseman Jake Smith (3 for 4).

“That was incredible,” El Toro starter Montana Quigley (2-2) said of the rally. “I thought we might be going home soon, but the bats woke up again and we scored some runs.”

Quigley persevered after allowing Sabol’s two-out drive to right-center in the seventh and finished with a complete game.

Aliso Niguel scored three runs in the third by capitalizing on an error, a hit batter and a balk. Kyle Molnar singled in the go-ahead run in the third to give the Wolverines a 3-2 lead.

“I just have to stay locked in through the whole game and battle through everything,” said Quigley, who scattered eight hits, struck out two and walked one. "(Aliso Niguel) has some guys who can hit really well."

Said Gonzales of his 6-foot-4 right-hander, "He had a great outing. ... It's tough to pitch on the road in the South Coast League."

Aliso Niguel coach Craig Hanson credited Quigley for his control and changing speeds, but said his team is struggling offensively.

“We just haven’t found the right lineup,” Hanson said. “It’s going to click here sooner or later. These kids are too talented to not figure it out.”

El Toro foreshadowed its abilities with two out by collecting three consecutive two-out hits in the first inning. Zamora drove in Krear and Smith with a two-run double to left. Nocon (2-1) responded with five scoreless innings before the Chargers rallied in the seventh.

"(We're) starting off the season right," Quigley said.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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