Patrick Kelly slides into second base. | Credit: Lily Chubb

Long Beach – Pitching and defense were the foundation of the San Marcos High baseball team’s storybook run to the CIF-SS Division 3 championship game, but that winning formula eluded the Royals in a 11-1 loss to Aliso Niguel on Saturday afternoon at Blair Field in Long Beach.

San Marcos surrendered five unearned runs and played an uncharacteristically sloppy game that resulted in a sour end to the Royals’ CIF championship aspirations.

“It was a beautiful ride and just being here, win or lose, is such an accomplishment,” said San Marcos coach Wesley Ghan-Gibson. “You do your best to enjoy the moment and attack the best you can. The other team was better than us today and that’s as simple as it gets.”

San Marcos ace Cole Schoenwetter kept Aliso Niguel scoreless through the first three innings, but disaster struck in the bottom of the fourth when a wild pitch with Aliso Niguel runners on second and third, followed by an overthrow by the San Marcos catcher on the ensuing play at the plate, allowed two runs to score with two outs in the inning.

Cole Schoenwetter held Aliso Niguel hitless through three innings. Photo Credit: Lily Chubb

“A couple bounces didn’t go our way, a couple calls didn’t go our way and I gave up two hits,” said Schoenwetter of the fourth inning. “There were some pitches that I left too far over the plate and I’ll take credit for that.”

Aliso Niguel tacked on another unearned run with two outs in the top of the fifth inning on a ground ball to third base by Brian Tatch that took a bad hop into left field and scored Hayden Orrill, increasing the lead to 3-0. The Wolverines’ feisty at bats with two outs swung the game in their favor.

“Fortunately for us we were able to go up against {Cole} Stokes at Redondo Union, who is very similar {to Schoenwetter} velocity wise in the second round.” said Aliso Niguel head coach Chris Hanson. “All we did these last three days was move the {pitching} machine up close on top of guys and work on two-strike hitting.”

Schoenwetter was replaced on the mound by Caden Hodina to begin top of the sixth inning and Aliso Niguel exploded for five runs on three hits to take an 8-0 lead.

The Royals scored their lone run of the ball game in the bottom of the sixth inning after Schoenwetter led off with a lined single to center field and Estabrook followed with a double to left field that closed the San Marcos deficit to 8-1.

Estabrook was caught stealing third and San Marcos failed to score again despite a Patrick Kelly single later in the inning. Aliso Niguel pitcher Damon Anderson Wolf was solid throughout and did an excellent job of minimizing damage when San Marcos hitters reached base. Anderson Wolf pitched a complete game, struck out five and only walked one batter.

“He’s not one of those guys who is going to light up a radar gun, but he can throw strikes,” Hanson said. “He can throw three pitches for strikes at any time in the count and when you can do that good things are going to happen.”

Darren Orlando came on to pitch in the top of the seventh and surrendered three runs on three hits increasing the Wolverines’ lead to 11-1. Despite the lopsided score San Marcos and Aliso Niguel both finished with nine hits. Schoenwetter, Estabrook and Kelly recorded two hits apiece.

San Marcos will advance to the Regional playoffs by virtue of reaching the CIF-SS Division 3 Championship game beginning May 30.


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