Prep Baseball: Sobrato, Alipaz come out on top of Christopher in pitcher’s duel

Sobrato's Marcus Alipaz comes home against Christopher. Alipaz threw a complete game three-hit shutout as the Bulldogs emerged 1-0 winners at home on Thursday.

Sobrato and Christopher’s game Thursday didn’t start as the pitcher’s duel it became.
After Christopher went to the bullpen after just three batters, the Bulldogs’ and the Cougars’ pitchers traded strike-for-strike. In the end, Sobrato’s Marcus Alipaz was just a little bit better, as the senior threw a complete game shutout to lead the Bulldogs to a 1-0 win.
“Marcus is a real competitor. Nobody likes to lose worse than him. He’s nails out here. He’s my ace,” said Sobrato coach Tom Burg.
Alipaz said his changeup wasn’t working against Christopher, but he had his other pitches working which helped him out.
“I had my fastball working,” Alipaz said. “I didn’t have my changeup at all, but I had my fastball and slider.”
The Cougars’ starter issued three straight walks to start the game, throwing 12 balls in 16 pitches before getting pulled in favor of Justin Nelson.
Nelson got Christopher out of the inning and went on to throw four straight innings of no-hit ball.
“He’s been a guy we can count on coming in,” said coach Ryan Dequin. “He struggled a little early, but he’s a guy who throws strikes and that’s what he needed to do.”
Nelson entered the game, striking out the first batter he faced and induced an inning-ending double play.
“Justin played for me as a youngster and he’s a great competitor. He always has been,” Burg said. “Today was no different. He came in and gave them five innings of basically no-hit ball.”
His only blemish going to the fifth inning was a hit batter in the second.
Nelson’s counterpart Alipaz was equally as impressive, scattering three hits through seven innings and pitching his way out of two jams.
In the second inning, CHS’ Anthony Rodriquez led off with a single and stole second. He advanced to third when Gordan Papalias hit a fly ball to center with one out. After Alipaz issued his first of three walks for the game, he turned around and recorded the second of his seven strikeouts to keep the Cougars off the board.
Alipaz didn’t allow another base runner until the fifth and didn’t yield a hit until the sixth inning.
Neither side could figure the other out until the fifth when a freshman playing in just his third game broke up the no-no.
John Bell lined a ball into shallow right field and came within a foot of getting picked off by the fielder. But the throw went wide just as Bell got to the bag.
On a day where hits were hard to come by, Bell went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
And that opened the floodgates for the bottom of Sobrato’s lineup.
Stephen Brenny and Jon Newman both followed up with singles of their own to load the bases.
“It was good. We needed to get those hits to get at least one insurance run,” Alipaz said.
Nelson got a fly out before he gave way to Alec Cordova who got the final two outs, but not before Sobrato got the game’s only run across.
Jared Gunsky hit a Texas-leaguer into shallow center, which forced Newman to freeze between first and second.
“The runner (Newman) really played that right,” Burg said. “He went part way. If they caught it, he would have been able to get back. … I had no complaints with the boys today; it was a well played baseball game today.”
Christopher’s center fielder got the force at second, but not before Bell scored from third.
“That’s been a struggle for our team to look for the next play and not get down with what’s going on,” Dequin said. “They did score a run, but they got out of a big jam that could have gotten ugly really quick, but they kept their composure and did what they needed to do.”
Christopher wasted little time to answer, as Richie Rios led off the top of the sixth with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Darren Santos advanced Rios to third on a ground ball to second, but that was as close as Christopher came.
Alipaz struck the next batter out and got out of the inning with a ground ball to third where Matthew Roth made a strong play to get a speedy Anthony Rodriguez.
Burg also gave credit to first baseman Brenny for picking several balls out of the dirt at first.
“He dug three balls out of the dirt today. No errors,” Burg said.
Both teams during the game were solid defensively, with neither side committing an error.
“I did tell the defense they did a great job today. That was the best defensive game of the year,” Burg said.
Catcher Asa Jacob threw out a runner in the first trying to steal and nearly had a second runner thrown out, but the runner just got under the tag.
“Asa is good. He’s got a strong arm and calls pitches well,” Alipaz said.
Sobrato will next play Lincoln in San Jose 4 p.m. March 24 to kick off Santa Teresa Division play.
Christopher opens Gabilan Division play 4 p.m. March 24 at home against Salinas.

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