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KYUSUNG GONG, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
El Toro's Bradley Spooner, left, celebrates his shutout against Cypress in the Loara Tournament semifinals.

Spooner makes it easy for El Toro to advance to Loara title game

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

ANAHEIM - Hits were at a premium in the Loara Tournament semifinal between El Toro and Cypress on Thursday night at Glover Stadium.

The Chargers’ Bradley Spooner had the Cypress hitters confused all night. The senior pitched a two-hitter and struck out seven as El Toro beat the No. 4 Centurions, 2-0, to advance to Saturday’s championship game against Aliso Niguel.

Spooner retired 16 of the last 18 hitters and allowed just one hit after the first inning.

“I felt really good going into the game,” Spooner said. “ I felt really strong with my fastball and curveball. I knew they were a good-hitting team, so I had to hit my spots and pitch around them a bit.”

The Centurions (6-1) had perhaps their best chance to score in the first inning. Senior Dominic Fletcher, the reigning Empire League MVP and Arkansas commit, hit a triple deep into the gap in right field.

Spooner got Isaak Gutierrez to ground out to end the inning.

“He hit it hard,” Spooner said of Fletcher’s triple. “I told myself to shake it off and go pitch better the next inning.”

The pitching was excellent from Cypress as well. The trio of Gutierrez, Jaiden Swigart and Aaron Lizarraga did not allow an earned run and gave up just three hits.

El Toro’s two runs came in the second inning. Chargers sophomore first baseman Erik Tolman hit the ball to shallow left field, and two Cypress fielders collided, allowing the ball to drop. Gavin Garcia and Matthew Kincade scored.

The Chargers (5-1) could have done more damage in the inning, but Tolman was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a passed ball.

Spooner felt comfortable throughout the game despite a relatively small lead.

“I never felt pressure. I just had to pitch to my full potential and do what I could do,” Spooner said.

El Toro and its South Coast League rival, Aliso Niguel, will play in the final Saturday at Glover Stadium at 7 p.m.


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