It has been 51 years in the making, but the Elsinore Tigers baseball team is headed to a CIF Southern Section championship game for just the second time in school history. To get there, they would need to beat Ambassador League champions, the Aquinas Falcons, in their CIF Southern Section Division 6 semifinal match-up. Aquinas was one of the top Division 6 teams during the season boasting a 21-2 record.

Elsinore has produced one of their most successful seasons to date, under new head coach Matt Mosiello, who after two years off from head coaching at Vista Murrieta, stepped back into one of his favorite roles. The Tigers won the Inland Valley League title this year and are currently sitting at 19-5 on the season.

Aquinas pitcher, Cade Nolan (44), tosses the baseball to first base for an out during their CIF Southern Section Division 6 semifinal baseball game against Elsinore High School. Valley News/Action Captures Media Group

Aquinas got on the board first when junior Cade Nolan singled, stole second and, after breaking for third, scored on a Seth Cesena infield single. The Falcons would have just three runners after the first inning and all were taken out on the bases, two by pickoff and one attempting to steal a base.

The score would stay at 1-0 until a hitless, two-run rally in the sixth helped the Tigers knocked off top-ranked Aquinas, 2-1. The Tigers used two walks, a hit batsman, a steal and a disputed error to take the lead. Elsinore shortstop, Isaac Martinez, walked and stole second. With one out, the game’s most pivotal play, a popup that shortstop Eric Bitonti appeared to catch, then drop, would rattle the cages of the visiting team.

Elsinore shortstop Isaac Martinez (42) fields a ground ball during the Tigers 2-1 semifinal victory over Aquinas Tuesday, June 15. Valley News/Action Captures Media Group

Denied a second out by the umpires, Aquinas starter Cade Nolan could not turn things around in the inning. He walked Kyle Thoulian to load the bases and then hit Dillon Slaton to force in the tying run. The go-ahead run came on a pickoff play that got past their third baseman.

the Tigers secured their victory after a leadoff walk to Nolan and a sacrifice by Seth Cesena put the tying run at second, reliever Josh McAninch picked off Nolan, and then finished the job with a strikeout.

Elsinore starting pitcher, Chad Horton (44), pitched 6 innings giving up four hits with seven strikeouts for the win in the tigers 2-1 semifinal victory over Aquinas. Valley News/Action Captures Media Group

Elsinore (19-5) will face La Habra Saturday at 10 a.m. at Cal State Fullerton in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 finals. For more information on streaming services for the championship games, visit

JP Raineri can be reached by email at

JP Raineri

JP is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and head of the Sports Department for the Valley News. Over his time in the Temecula Valley, JP, a former Southwestern League head baseball coach, was also an on-air radio personality at Q103.3, KATY 101.3, Hot 103.9, and was a television host for the Outdoor Channel. When not covering local, or national sports, JP also serves as an Associate Baseball Scout with NSR.