Mission Viejo earns 'absolutely huge' win over San Clemente


SAN CLEMENTE – Andre Pallante of San Clemente and Tanner Bibee of Mission Viejo were squarely locked in a pitching duel.

The starters traded zero after zero into an extra eighth inning, and that’s where Mission Viejo grabbed its opportunity.

The Diablos scored six runs in the eighth inning to defeat San Clemente, 6-0, in a crucial Sea View League game at San Clemente High on Wednesday.

“Absolutely huge,” Mission Viejo coach Chris Ashbach said of his team’s sixth consecutive league victory. “Right now, we’re feeling pretty good.”

Mission Viejo (16-10, 6-3) leads an extremely tight league race, just ahead of Trabuco Hills (13-13, 7-4), San Clemente (16-9-1, 5-4) and San Juan Hills (14-11, 5-4).

“(Looking at the) scoreboard it looks like we got our hats handed to us,” San Clemente coach David Gellatly said, “but obviously, it was a different story.”

Bibee threw the first seven innings and allowed five hits and added five strikeouts.

Pallante pitched into the eighth, recording eight strikeouts, and allowed five hits.

Jake Figueroa led off the eighth with a single up the middle and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Figueroa went 3 for 5.

“Everybody in our dugout (got excited),” Ashbach said of Figueroa’s hit. “After that, it just got contagious.”

Pallante issued an intentional walk and threw two wild pitches on a walk to Bibee. Figueroa scored from third on the second wild pitch for a 1-0 lead.

Mike McGreevy replaced Pallante, and Joey Castelli hit a RBI single to make it 2-0.

“That’s the one thing we’ve kind of fought all year,” Gellatly said. “We get down 2-0, and it’s like the air is left out of the dugout.”

The Diablos scored two runs on a single by Matt Grinstead, and Aaron Casillas brought in two runs with a double.

Joey Garman pitched the eighth for Mission Viejo.

San Clemente still controls its fate in the Sea View League, which has guaranteed CIF-SS playoff spots for its top three finishers.

The Tritons play at Mission Viejo on Friday and close the regular season with two games against San Juan Hills.

“I think it’s anybody’s game,” Gellatly said of the league title. “If we play the way we’re capable of, we’ll be just fine. The league championship is in anybody’s grasp.”

After Friday, Mission Viejo closes league play with two games against last-place Laguna Hills.

Trabuco Hills has just one league game remaining, against San Juan Hills on Friday.

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