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Shiffman clears the way for El Toro pull out win
LAKE FOREST El Toro’s Stone Shiffman eyed the curveball from release point to the pocket of the catcher’s mitt, and he instantly regretted keeping the bat on his shoulder.
The sophomore stepped out of the batter’s box, gave a slight shake of his head in self-disapproval, dug back in and expected to see another breaking ball.
The Chargers talented youngster guessed correctly and smacked the pitch to the right-center field fence for a bases-clearing double that was the difference in No. 4 El Toro’s come-from-behind 3-2 victory over No. 5 Aliso Niguel in a South Coast League game Friday afternoon at El Toro High.
In winning both of their outings against the Wolverines this week, the Chargers (14-5 overall) improved to 4-2 in league, keeping itself atop the standings with Dana Hills. All four teams in the league shared the top spot entering Friday’s games.
“It’s huge anytime you can win two South Coast League games in one week,” Chargers coach Mike Gonzales said. “It’s extremely hard to do, especially when you go home-and-home. It’s a big boost for our confidence.”
Aliso Niguel (12-7, 3-3) jumped on El Toro southpaw Sam Glick early, using a Connor Kokx single and a Blake Sabol double to put runners on second and third. Hunter Jump laced a two-run double down the left field line, leaving the Chargers trailing, 2-0, just 12 pitches into the game.
“I really just had to settle in a bit,” Glick said. “I kind of felt like I was letting my team down.”
The junior allowed only two hits over the next six innings, striking out seven in the process.
With two down and no one on in the fifth, Chargers second baseman Josh Zamora lined a double to the left field fence, Gavin Garcia followed with a single and Matt Kincade walked to load the bases for Shiffman.
Aliso Niguel pitcher Ethan Butka scattered only five hits in 42/3 innings, but was relieved by Stefan Greer after loading the base path.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play and see what happens from there,” Shiffman explained of his double. “The second strike he threw was a curveball that was up. I knew he was going to throw another curve since I shook my head at that one.”
After stranding six runners on base in the first four innings, Shiffman delivered with his blast to right-center, putting the Chargers ahead for good.
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