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West Ranch outduels Saugus baseball

Posted: March 28, 2014 9:56 p.m.
Updated: March 28, 2014 9:56 p.m.

West Ranch shortstop Jagger Rusconi (5) makes the stop on a ground ball before throwing to first base for the final out of Friday's game against Saugus High at West Ranch High School.

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Casey Burrill, head baseball coach at West Ranch, called his team’s 2-1 win over visiting Saugus on Friday a “baseball connoisseur’s dream.”

Others might call it an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel.

No matter what it’s called, the Wildcats’ win over Saugus was as hard-fought as it gets, with standout performances from both starting pitchers.

West Ranch starter A.J. West went 4 1/3 innings, allowing only one hit and keeping Saugus off the scoreboard.

Centurions starter Anthony Donatella went 5 1/3 innings with three strikeouts and two unearned runs.

“It wasn’t a very offensive game,” Burrill said. “A.J. went toe-to-toe with Donatella. Both guys pitched great. It was just a really well-played, close game.”

The Wildcats (8-3 overall, 3-1 Foothill League) got a little help from Saugus in the fourth inning to break the 0-0 tie when, with a runner on first, Jason Drees laid down a sacrifice bunt but reached base due to an error. Chase Malynn reached on an error as well and he and Drees were brought home by pinch-hitter Parker Bacon. Saugus (8-4, 2-2) had three total errors in the game.

“Our pitching was outstanding,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “Anthony pitched well enough to win the game. We just booted a couple of balls and that cost us.”

The Centurions tried to stage a late-game comeback when Roy Verdejo doubled off of West Ranch reliever Jake Bird with two outs. Rex Kemple singled him in to cut the West Ranch lead to one, but Bird recovered and forced the next batter to ground out to end the game.

The run Bird allowed was his first all year.

“We’re struggling at the plate a little bit right now,” Maggiora said. “It’s just something we’ll have to work through.”

Verdejo and Kemple both had two-hit games for the Centurions and Blake Bumgartner had two hits for West Ranch.

The Wildcats will host Canyon on Wednesday and Saugus will play host to Hart.

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