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Cents answer a bang

Saugus turns Valencia miscues into six-run win in Foothill League opener

Posted: March 21, 2009 2:12 a.m.
Updated: March 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Valencia's Taylor Dingman dives for a ball shooting through the gap at second base during the Foothill League opener against Saugus Friday at Saugus.

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Valencia’s Foothill League baseball season opened with a bang early, but the rest of the game was plagued by shaky defense as Saugus capitalized on five Viking errors to score a 7-1 home victory.

Shortstop Christian Lopes hit the second pitch of the game over the left-center field wall to put the Vikings (3-3, 0-1) on the board first, but Valencia’s bats were silenced by starter Darren Schweitzer and reliever Kyle Hooper for the next seven innings.

“One of the nice things about starting on a Friday and having a few days off is that we knew we could use our top two guys,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “At the first sign of trouble for Darren we knew we could go to Kyle right away.”

Schweitzer hit his first sign of trouble in the fourth when he gave up a leadoff single to right fielder Alex Pitman after Saugus (3-3, 1-0) had knotted the game with a run in the second.

Hooper, who earned the win, got a pair of groundouts and Dakotah Hernandez gunned down an attempted stolen base to keep Valencia off the board.

While Saugus’ defense sparkled in the top of the fourth, Valencia’s proved to be its downfall in the bottom half of the frame.

A pair of errors by second baseman Taylor Dingman allowed Saugus to load the bases without the benefit of a hit, setting the table for Michael Soucy, who unloaded a grand slam off losing pitcher David Hausman to give the Centurions their first lead.

“I thought (the ball) was going to hit off the wall or get caught when I hit it,” Soucy said of his drive to left center. “I was just hoping it would get down so we could get a couple of runs, but then it got over so I was excited that we could get a good-sized lead.”

The four-run cushion proved to be more than enough for Hooper, who breezed through the final four innings of the game by giving up a walk and a single and not allowing a runner past second base.

“We can’t beat a team that is as good as Saugus is by playing how we played today,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “Our pitching did well, but it’s tough to go to the mound when your defense makes five errors behind you.”

Another plus for the Centurions was the return of shortstop Zach Vincej, who missed the pre-league season with a broken hand.

The two-time Saugus MVP still can’t swing a bat, but he made several solid plays in the field.

“Just having Zach back out there was so big for our team,” Maggiora said. “For them to be able to know that any ball hit around Zach was going to be an out really let them pitch more comfortably.”

There is no time for Saugus to get too comfortable, though, because the Cents are scheduled to take on West Ranch Wednesday. The Wildcats scored an 8-0 home victory over Hart in their opener. Valencia draws Canyon in its next Foothill League contest.

“We bring the attitude into league play that every game is like a championship game, and we have to bring that kind of intensity onto the field,” Maggiora said. “Today we were able to bring that, and we showed great togetherness.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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