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First things first for ’Cats

West Ranch beats Hart for first time in history of baseball program

Posted: March 21, 2009 2:17 a.m.
Updated: March 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

West Ranch shortstop Cal Vogelsang prepares to catch a pop fly during the fifth inning Friday against Hart at West Ranch High School. The Wildcats beat the Indians for the first time in school history.

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Entering the season, West Ranch had never beaten Hart, Saugus or Valencia in varsity baseball. In order to win a Foothill League title, West Ranch must do so.

One down, two to go.

West Ranch got 5 1/3 strong innings from starting pitcher Trevor Fredrickson, and jumped on Hart starter Garrett Gooding early to blank the Indians 8-0 at West Ranch High School.

“We feel that’s going to be a big monkey off our back,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “This is a game we’ve had circled on our schedule for a long, long time.”

It’s also a game Fredrickson will remember for a long time.

The senior left-hander allowed no runs on four hits, but ran into some trouble in the second inning. With runners at first and second and only one out, he struck out the next two batters to escape the jam.

“I feel like I pitched a lot of strikes, and it teamed with our offense,” Fredrickson said.

Whereas Fredrickson got himself out of trouble early on, Gooding fell victim to West Ranch’s big bats. Nico Rusconi led off the game with a single, advanced to third on a double by Cal Vogelsang and scored on a wild pitch.

Jake Bernards then stepped up and hit a sacrifice fly to plate Vogelsang, who moved to third on a wild pitch. Bernards had crushed a pitch over the fence in right field earlier in the count, but the umpire ruled it foul.

“In years past, it would have been the opposite,” Burrill said. “Hart would have gone the other direction and we would have struggled to capitalize on some of those situations. Trevor did pitch himself out of some early jams, and maybe you could say that was the difference in the game.”

The Wildcats (5-1, 1-0) began the second inning with a double by designated hitter Allen Sarkissian, and Mitchell Thompson took first after being hit by a pitch. Fredrickson loaded the bases with a bunt single, and Randy Poe grounded to third to score Sarkissian.

Rusconi doubled home Fredrickson and Poe, and West Ranch added two more runs in the third when Fredrickson grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Cody Howard and Poe hit a sacrifice fly to plate Sarkissian.

“I really thought that for the most part, we made some quality pitches and we didn’t make plays when we had to make plays,” said Hart head coach Jim Ozella. “I didn’t think we hustled. I thought they out-pitched us.”

Hart’s Kyle Cook took over with two down in the third and promptly induced a fielder’s choice groundout. Bernards tacked on West Ranch’s final run by hammering the first pitch he saw in the fourth inning over the right-field wall.

The Indians (3-4-1, 0-1), meanwhile, had baserunners in the first four innings but couldn’t come up with clutch hits.

Howard entered the game in the sixth with a runner on third and proceeded to strike out the next two batters to end the frame.

“Our plan was to try and put the ball in play, use the whole field,” Ozella said. “We tried to have an approach that we usually try to have, which is have some sort of locked-in approach, and we didn’t do that.”

Ozella credited Fredrickson for his lineup’s struggles, and Burrill echoed the sentiment.

“It’s Trevor’s game,” he said. “He’s the one who went out there and made those pitches. He’s a senior on the bump in the league opener, and I thought he pitched a fantastic game.”

West Ranch pounded out 10 hits, led by Rusconi, Bernards, Howard and Sarkissian, who each had two.

Hart’s Trevor Brown went 3-for-3 with a double, and Jon Barrett had the only other hit.

“I feel like (Hart) is just the first of it,” Fredrickson said. “We’re going to be a force to be reckoned with this year.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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