Sealey's early grab sparks San Clemente victory


MISSION VIEJO – Few things change a game like a momentum swing.

It happened in the second inning for the fourth-ranked San Clemente baseball team in a game against No. 8 Mission Viejo on Wednesday.

Center fielder Connor Sealey’s wall-scaling catch set the tone, and the inspired Tritons went on to win 2-1 in a Sea View League game at Mission Viejo High.

The Tritons center fielder robbed Matt Ryhlick of extra bases, elevating with his back turned to the field to make the catch.

“That was huge,” Tritons coach David Gellatly said. “He timed it well. That was a big play, and I think it was a big momentum swing.

“That was the one guy (Ryhlick) that could take it out at any given moment. We thought he got it, but Connor saved it for us.”

By winning, San Clemente (20-6, 8-1) took sole possession of first place in league and moved a game ahead of Mission Viejo (19-9, 7-2). The two teams split their first two games this season, meaning the winner of Friday’s contest at San Clemente will control its fate in the last week of the regular season.

After Sealey’s catch, San Clemente starter Andre Pallante (6-1) was rarely in trouble. The junior allowed just one run in the fourth and struck out nine in a dominating complete-game performance.

San Clemente’s Lucas Herbert put his team ahead, 1-0, with a home run to left field in the third.

Diablos starter Patrick Sandoval (7-3) had pitched a two-hit shutout against the Tritons in the teams’ first meeting. San Clemente managed seven hits in their second chance against Mission Viejo’s highly touted ace.

The Tritons’ decisive blow came in the seventh. Chris Puckett singled to lead off the inning. Eric Burckle bunted the runner to second, and Will Tribucher whistled a liner into center for the go-ahead run.

“It gives you power,” said Pallante of his team’s run in the seventh. “There’s nothing more exciting than going out there in the bottom of the seventh with a one-run lead. You have to go out there and win it.”

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