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Aliso Niguel's Nocon shuts out No. 3 Dana Hills
ALISO VIEJO – It wasn’t the pitching matchup that most anticipated, but Aliso Niguel starter Zak Nocon certainly played his part.
The junior right-hander stymied No. 3 Dana Hills with his off-speed pitches and Blake Sabol provided all the offense No. 7 Aliso Niguel needed for a 1-0 South Coast League win Friday at Aliso Niguel High.
Nocon (3-1) pitched a complete-game shutout, striking out six while allowing three hits and two walks.
“I always trust the defense, that’s a really big part of this team,” Nocon said. “When I’m on the hill, I know I can pitch however I want and they’ll make the play behind me.”
After putting up 14 runs against Tesoro on Wednesday, the Wolverines needed only one against the Dolphins.
Aliso Niguel ace Kyle Molnar pitched in that game, avoiding the possibility of the teams’ aces matching up on Friday.
However, against Nocon, the Dolphins did not advance a runner past second base and the Wolverines (7-4, 3-1) provided their pitcher with plenty of defensive gems.
With runners on first and second base with two outs in the fifth, Wolverines third baseman Dominic Colacchio charged a slow roller and fired out a speedy Luke Williams to escape the jam.
In the bottom of the inning, Sabol lifted a fastball from Dolphins starter Marrick Crouse (4-1) over the right-field fence for a solo home run.
Crouse’s pitches were elevated through most of the contest, which led to nine flyball outs before Sabol’s homer.
“It was a tough battle, Marrick was pitching well,” Sabol said. “I was hoping to get something straight to help us get on the board and luckily I stayed through it well enough.”
Sabol’s shot made up for a baserunning error by Remy Wasserbach, who jumped early on a fly with the bases loaded and one out and was forced to retreat back to third base. Aliso Niguel was held scoreless.
The Dolphins (11-2, 1-1) threatened in the sixth inning, but Nocon picked off Jay Schuyler at first base and got Reid Lundeen to pop out in foul territory to end the threat.
Nocon retired the Dolphins in order in the seventh to finish off his shutout.
“I’m a big believer that pitching and defense is what wins ballgames and we knew that we would have to play a perfect game to beat them,” Wolverines coach Craig Hanson said. “They stepped up and made big plays when we needed them.”
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