Capo Valley finishes first in 'crazy' South Coast race
The margin was razor thin in the South Coast League.
Capistrano Valley forced a three-way tie for first place going into the season’s final day with a win at Aliso Niguel on Tuesday.
On Wednesday at Capistrano Valley, the Cougars were able to tip the scales, if ever so barely.
With the art of small ball, Capistrano Valley scratched out a couple runs and edged sixth-ranked Aliso Niguel, 2-1, to win its second consecutive South Coast League title.
“It’s a crazy game,” Capistrano Valley coach Bob Zamora said. “This is such a competitive league. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day.”
Despite its third loss in a row, Aliso Niguel (17-13, 6-6) remained tied for second place with Dana Hills (24-7, 6-6), which lost to El Toro, 8-2. The Wolverines earned the league’s second seed for the playoffs by winning the season series with the Dolphins.
“This league has been beating each other up all year long,” Aliso Niguel coach Craig Hanson said. “All the games have been tight. It comes down to execution.”
Capistrano Valley (13-16-1, 7-5) got on the scoreboard first with a squeeze play in the second inning.
Trevor Willits laid a bunt to the left side of the infield, and Jake Ortega sprinted from third to beat the tag and give the Cougars the lead, 1-0.
After missing the first three innings for an International Baccalaureate test, the Cougars’ scheduled starter, Zach Haffner, took the mound in the fourth and gave up a run to Aliso Niguel.
Blake Sabol reached and advanced on errors before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Connor Kokx to tie the score, 1-1.
Capistrano Valley gained the edge in the sixth. Ortega reached on a single and worked to third on bunts and an error. Aliso Niguel couldn’t turn a double play on a Kevin Joyce grounder and Ortega scored the go-ahead run.
Also in the South Coast League:
El Toro 8, No. 4 Dana Hills 2: Kaleb Fossum pitched a five-hitter and Brandon Helmick went 3 for 4 with two doubles as the Chargers defeated the visiting Dolphins (24-7, 6-6).