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Aliso Niguel smashes its way into championship game
Aliso Niguel played its best game of the year this past Friday, according to the Aliso Niguel coach.
On Tuesday, Aliso Niguel overwhelmed Trabuco Hills, 16-3, in a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 semifinal playoff game at Trabuco Hills High.
Aliso Niguel (23-11) will play Pacifica (27-5) in the Division 2 championship game Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Dodger Stadium.
So isn’t a 13-run victory, over a league rival in a game that punches your ticket to the school’s first CIF baseball final, and the chance to play at Dodger Stadium, too, now Aliso’s best game of the year?
No, not really.
“That Valencia game was our best all-around game,” said Aliso Niguel coach Craig Hanson, referring to the Wolverines’ 10-0 victory over Valencia of Placentia last Friday in the Division 2 quarterfinals. “Today, we swung the bats well.”
Aliso Niguel had 17 hits Tuesday. Sophomore left fielder Anthony Sommer drove in five runs. Senior designated hitter Mike Hall and senior pitcher Matt Molnar drove in two apiece.
Wolverines senior Brett Barker agreed with his coach that Tuesday was fine, but not the team’s best effort.
“Offensively, yeah, it was our best game,” Barker said. “But I like a good close game, a pitching battle.”
Barker will get the chance to be part of one of those Friday at Dodger Stadium. Barker (8-1, 0.71 ERA), a left-hander, is Aliso Niguel’s probable starting pitcher for the Division 2 final against Pacifica, which is expected to counter with senior right-hander Kyle Davis (9-1, 1.12 ERA).
The Wolverines had never advanced past the baseball playoffs second round before this year. They got off to a good start Tuesday by scoring three runs in the top of the first inning. Aliso Niguel had a 6-3 lead after five innings, scored twice in the sixth to make it 8-3 and then locked the victory away with an 8-run seventh.
Trabuco Hills finished 17-14. The Mustangs, who finished third in the five-team Sea View League behind league champion Mission Viejo and second-place Aliso Niguel, had to win a wild-card round to get to the Division 2 first round.
Aliso Niguel had beaten Trabuco Hills twice in their three Sea View League games. Aliso won the first game, 10-0, at Aliso Niguel; Trabuco Hills won the second game, 10-7, at Trabuco; and Aliso won the third game, 3-2, at Aliso Niguel.
Also in Division 2:
Pacifica 2, South Hills of West Covina 1: Max Bethell turned another stellar pitching performance, throwing a one-hitter with six strikeouts through five innings as the visiting Mariners (27-5) advanced to play Aliso Niguel in the championship game at Dodger Stadium on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Bethell, a senior left-hander who signed with Cal Poly Pomona, pitched a shutout last week in the Mariners’ 4-0 victory over Alta Loma in the second round. Davis pitched the sixth and seventh innings Tuesday.
Trent Chatterton scored both Pacifica runs, the first one in the first inning on a base hit by Davis and the other in the sixth on a base hit by Bethell.
Friday’s game at Dodger Stadium will be Pacifica’s second CIF-SS baseball finals appearance. They lost to La Quinta, 2-1, in the Division 4 championship game in 2003.