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By Steve Breazeale
Needing a win over surging Aliso Niguel on May 7 the San Clemente baseball team was shutout by the off speed repertoire of Wolverines senior pitcher Kenji Teshima in a 1-0 loss.
A win would have wrapped the Sea View League title up outright for the Tritons (22-7, 8-3 league) but instead they find themselves in a tie at the top of the standings with the Wolverines (18-11, 8-3), who have now won five in a row.
Last week, the Tritons faced the power arms in the Dana Hills pitching rotation but were up against a totally different foe in the lanky Aliso Niguel starter.
Teshima established his breaking ball early and spun sinking and tailing pitches onto the bats of the Tritons, who did not make hard contact until senior Nick Pignone led off the sixth inning with a double to the gap in right-center field. After Pignone moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt Teshima was able to retire the next two Tritons in order and erase what was San Clemente’s best scoring opportunity of the game.
Teshima pitched six innings in the win, yielding only four hits and two walks.
In a definite contrast of styles, San Clemente senior starter Cody Maples used his hard fastball to navigate through the Wolverines lineup. Maples escaped bases loaded scenarios in both the first and third innings but was finally touched up for one run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Aliso Niguel’s Justin Fowler.
Maples pitched six innings for the fifth consecutive time in as many starts but the Tritons offense, which has scored three runs in its last three games, failed to capitalize on the few opportunities allowed by Teshima.
“We knew exactly what (Teshima) was going to do. He was going to throw off speed and he was going to throw outside all day long and we just didn’t make the adjustments,” San Clemente head coach Dave Gellatly said.
The stage is now set for both teams to compete for the league title on May 9. The decisive game will be a battle of sophomore arms, as the Tritons will start Kolby Allard and Aliso Niguel will likely start Kyle Molnar, a UCLA commit.