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Fluman's shutout keeps El Toro rolling

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

LAKE FOREST – El Toro, coming off of back-to-back last-place finishes in the South Coast League, was unranked when the baseball season started.

But behind a stellar performance by starting pitcher Noah Fluman, the second-seeded Chargers find themselves in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.

El Toro charged to a 4-0 victory over Kennedy on a blustery Friday afternoon. Fluman struck out eight, gave up three hits and walked one. Only two baserunners for Kennedy reached scoring position.

“Nobody really gave us any credit,” Fluman said. “(Now) we’ve won league and are one of the top teams in the nation.”

The Chargers (24-5), who won the South Coast League title and are ranked No. 2 in the county, will be play at Oaks Christian of Westlake Village on Tuesday.

Fluman was dominant out of the gate, striking out two batters in the first and inducing a week comebacker.

The Chargers didn’t waste any time in building a cushion for Fluman.

They scored twice in the first on only one hit. Kenny Oyama walked and went to third on a Kennedy error that allowed Carson Negrete to get to second. Josh Zamora drove in Oyama with a fielder’s choice to short, pushing Negrete to third. Gavin Garcia and Matt Kincade each walked to load the bases before Stone Shiffman drove Negrete home with a single.

Kennedy (19-10) was able to get out of the inning with a fly ball to center and a grounder to the second baseman.

Fluman didn’t allow his first hit – a single that caromed off the pitcher’s mound – until there were two outs in the fourth.

“He pounds the zone,” said El Toro coach Mike Gonzales. “He kept the ball down. It was a tough day to hit with the wind, any fly balls were going to stay in the park.”

The Chargers added to its lead in the sixth with a two-RBI single by Oyama that drove in Kincade and Shiffman.

Gonzales is feeling bullish about El Toro’s chances of going deep into the postseason.

“As long as we play solid baseball,” he said, “I think we got a chance.”

Kennedy, which tied for second place in the Empire League, won its first-round game against Riverside Poly, 8-7, on Wednesday.


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