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Defense, pitching key for Hart baseball

Posted: March 21, 2014 10:49 p.m.
Updated: March 21, 2014 10:49 p.m.

Hart High's Pearson Good (8) slides safely home past Valencia catcher Anthony Lepre on a an RBI double by Weston Fitzpatrick (22) in the 3rd inning against Valencia at Hart on Friday.

Foothill League coaches collectively said prior to the baseball season that defense and pitching could be the factors that determine who wins the league championship.

It’s a long ways from the end, but Hart High just won a game because of those two aspects.

The Indians defeated the Valencia Vikings on a turbulent Friday for that program 3-1 at Hart High School.

With Hart leading 2-1 in the top of the fifth inning, the Indians turned to relief pitcher Paul Richan, who got clutch outs from the mound in his 3 1/3 innings.

But he got a giant lift in the top of the seventh inning that further propelled the Indians (7-0-1 overall, 2-0 Foothill League) to the win.

With a runner on first base, Valencia’s Keston Hiura hit a hard grounder to shortstop Nick Valaika.

Valaika short-hopped the hot shot, flipped it to second baseman Pearson Good for one out then Good completed the double play by throwing out Hiura.

“It is a privilege to play with Nick Valaika, It’s basically expected now,” Richan said of the play.

Valaika had another big play in the game with Hart’s biggest of four hits in the game.

Two batters after Wes Fitzpatrick gave Hart a 1-0 lead with a double, Valaika hit a shot a off the left-center field wall just to the right of the 360-foot marker.

The double scored Fitzpatrick for a 2-0 lead.

Valaika pushed the praise back to his pitching for the win.

“He’s a bulldog. He wanted the ball and it showed,” Valaika said of Richan.

Valencia got on the board with an RBI single in the fourth inning off the bat of Devin Davis.

That was the last batter Hart starter Chad Haslock would see in an otherwise strong performance.

Richan then came in and got slugger Chad Bible to ground out to Valaika on the 11th pitch of the at-bat.

Haslock gave the Indians a 3-1 lead with a hit-and-run RBI single in the sixth.

Valencia (3-4, 0-2) got strong pitching as well out of Thomas and relievers Jake Eaton and Jack Cunningham.

It was a trying day for the Vikings as they had to deal with their longtime head coach Jared Snyder going on a leave of absence.

The reason appeared to be of a financial nature and longtime assistant Mike Killinger was named interim head coach.

“From an onfield aspect, I don’t think it was a problem today,” Killinger said on if the coaching situation was a distraction for the team.


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