Molnar pitches Aliso Niguel past Vista Murrieta
SANTA ANA – The stands were packed with professional scouts as fifth-ranked Aliso Niguel and Vista Murrieta kicked off one of the country’s premier baseball showcases.
Wolverines ace Kyle Molnar had two dozen radar guns locked on his every pitch.
The Aliso Niguel senior struck out nine while pitching a three-hitter as the Wolverines defeated the Broncos, 4-3, Tuesday in the first round of the Boras Classic at Mater Dei High.
Molnar (5-1), who has signed with UCLA and might be a high pick in the upcoming major-league draft, pounded the strike zone with his low-90s fastball. The right-hander did not allow a hit through the first three innings.
Molnar felt good about his execution on the mound. The scouts, the competition and other intangibles that come with playing in a high-profile tournament only added to his motivation.
“You’re in the second half of the season now, and this is one of the best tournaments in the country,” he said. “You’re playing a good team every time. It gives me a little more adrenaline.”
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Molnar dominated at times, but the Broncos (9-4) capitalized in each of the three innings that he issued a walk or a hit-by-pitch.
Jack Moberg singled home Hunter Tidwell in the fourth, and Mitchell Moralez knocked in a run in the sixth.
The Wolverines (12-5) scored three runs in the third to take the lead, 3-1. Domenic Colacchio doubled to start the inning. Blake Sabol drew a walk from Chance Hroch (3-1), setting the table for Eric Wagaman. The Aliso Niguel first baseman ripped a home run over the left-field fence to give his team the lead.
“It felt really good,” Wagaman said of his game-changing swing. “I knew it was gone right when I hit it. It was great that there were two other runners on base.”
The 6-foot-3 Wagaman had not been hitting for power, but Wolverines coach Craig Hanson was thrilled to see it Tuesday.
“It was huge,” he said. “(Wagaman) has been swinging a real good bat for us. He’s a power hitter, but he hasn’t been showing much power this year. It was about time he drove one in a big-time way for us.”
The Broncos, ranked 19th in the state by CalHiSports.com, closed the gap to one twice, but Molnar stranded two in the sixth to shut the door.
Vista Murrieta coach Matt Mosiello was encouraged by the fight his team showed after falling behind.
“I felt our effort was good,” he said. “We battled, and that’s an outstanding pitcher we faced. He just seemed to make some really good pitches when he needed to.”
Mosiello hopes that playing a difficult schedule will pay dividends in the Southwestern League and eventually the playoffs.
“We try to play the toughest schedule we can, and our league is just as tough,” he said. “We’re hoping to make playoffs. These are the types of games that prepare us for playoffs. It’s an honor just to be in this tournament.”
In other Boras Classic games:
No. 9 Huntington Beach 4, Birmingham of Lake Balboa 2: Landon Silver hit a grand slam in the sixth inning to lift the Oilers (8-6) at Mater Dei.
No. 2 San Clemente 3, Chatsworth 1: The Tritons (15-1) scored two runs in the sixth to pull out the victory at JSerra. San Clemente will face Alemany on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Mater Dei.
Mater Dei 1, Corona 0: Sophomore Michael Thomas pitched a five-hit shutout for the Monarchs (8-4), who will play Long Beach Wilson today at 6 p.m. at Mater Dei.
Boras Classic Scores and Schedule
San Clemente 3, Chatsworth 1
Alemany 4, Palm Desert 2 (10 inning)
Great Oak 7, Damien 3
JSerra 4, Granite Hills 0
Huntington Beach 4, Birmingham 2
Aliso Niguel 4, Vista Murrieta 3
LB Wilson 5, Chaminade 2
Mater Dei 1, Corona 0
Championship bracket, second round
San Clemente vs. Alemany, at Mater Dei, 3 p.m.
JSerra vs. Great Oak, at JSerra, 6 p.m.
Aliso Niguel vs. Huntington Beach, at JSerra, noon
Mater Dei vs. LB Wilson, at Mater Dei, 6 p.m.