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West Ranch baseball holds on to win Foothill League opener

Posted: March 19, 2014 9:38 p.m.
Updated: March 19, 2014 9:38 p.m.

West Ranch's Jake Spurlin, right, runs home past Valencia's Hunter Holland on Wednesday at Valencia High.

If Wednesday’s Foothill League opener between the West Ranch and Valencia baseball teams is any indication of how the rest of the season will play out, then it should be a good one.

After falling behind 6-1 in the first two innings, Valencia rallied to within one run before the Wildcats shut the door and won 8-7 at Valencia High School.

The top of the Wildcats’ lineup was key to its early lead with Jagger Rusconi, Jason Drees and Nick Ruffino combining to score five of the first six runs for West Ranch (6-2 overall, 1-0 Foothill League).

Rusconi and Drees scored two runs apiece in the first two innings.

“I think going ahead early was big for us to show that we were here and we were going to be offensive,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “I think people are kind of questioning our offensive ability so it was neat that we could do that early in the game.”

Already in a 6-0 hole in the bottom of the second, Valencia (3-3, 0-1) plated its first run after Scott Ogrin reached base on an error and was brought in on an RBI single by Kaden Betsch.

The Vikings responded to another West Ranch run in the fourth inning with two more of their own, cutting the Wildcat lead to 7-3.

But it was the fifth inning where the Vikings’ bats really heated up.

After Chad Bible got hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, junior catcher Anthony Lepre turned on a fastball for a two-run home run off Kyle Paguio.

West Ranch changed pitchers and Marty Mojarro struck out the next two batters he faced before he walked Hunter Holland. Senior Jake Eaton singled Holland in and then scored on a RBI double by Keston Hiura, closing the gap to 8-7.

The Wildcats then brought in senior pitcher Josh Kovach, who got a strikeout to end the inning.

“Something just clicked for us and we just turned on,” Lepre said. “Everyone was up and on the fence and ready to go.”

Both teams failed to score in the sixth and after West Ranch went down in order in the top of the seventh, leaving Valencia with one more chance to either tie or win the game.

With one out, Valencia got their tying run aboard when Cole Kleszcz singled. But with two more fly outs, Kovach closed the door and earned the save.

“When you get down 6-0 early, to be able to have a chance to win the game in the seventh is pretty good,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “We told them to just keep chipping away and they didn’t quit. We came back well. We had an opportunity and we were close.”

Valencia’s week doesn’t get any easier as they will travel to Hart on Friday. West Ranch will host Golden Valley.
On Twitter: @MattLechuga


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