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Foothill Leaders stay hot

Posted: April 3, 2008 12:40 p.m.
Updated: June 4, 2008 5:05 a.m.

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For a good hour and a half, the best question to ask at Valencia High's baseball field Wednesday afternoon was what would come first - the anticipated rain or any energy from either side?

Despite a close game throughout, the first-place Vikings were in control against Canyon, but as quiet as it was, it didn't sound that way.

Then came an answer.

The noise on the Canyon side grew as the Cowboys threatened.

But as has been the case for Valencia through six games in the Foothill League, its pitching could not be rattled.

Valencia's Josh Corrales threw the Vikings' third consecutive complete game en route to a 5-2 Vikings victory.

"He keeps you thinking," said Canyon's Sammy Sarmiento of Corrales. "He keeps moving the ball around, changing speeds."

Corrales allowed three hits and a walk, striking out four Canyon batters.

With Valencia up 4-1 in what had been a listless game complete with a sparse crowd, Canyon (4-8-1, 1-5) threatened.

Tyler Pugmire hit a bloop double to begin the inning and came around and scored on an error.

With a runner on and one out, Sarmiento launched a Corrales offering to the wall in left field.

Valencia's Travis Amerian caught it, though, and Corrales ended the inning with another flyout as the Vikings' side erupted in pleasure.

Canyon got the early jump on Corrales, though, as a safety squeeze in the first inning by Sarmiento brought in a run.

But Canyon's outfield defense struggled to keep the Cowboys in the game.

Tommy Ferndino slapped an RBI-double down the left field line in the bottom of the first to tie the game 1-1, but after that, balls hit to the outfield were an adventure.

Valencia's Dylan Jones led off the second with a fly ball to center field, but it was lost in the sun by Canyon's Robert Wright. Jones received a gift double.

He, along with Taylor Dingman, who walked, were brought in on a double by Dominic Solley.

Solley took responsibility for Canyon's first run because he dropped a shallow pop fly in right field that led to the Canyon run.

"Definitely," Solley said about thinking redemption when he came to the plate. "That's the main reason I (got the hit)."

Solley's double came with two outs.

Situational hitting has been imperative for the Vikings this year because of their perceived lack of instant firepower in the lineup.

Yet Dingman, the No. 8 hitter, swatted the first pitch he saw from Canyon starter Sean Gavin in the fourth inning over the left field fence for a solo home run.

It was Dingman's fourth homer on the season.

"We stayed relaxed a little too long," Dingman admitted about his team's energy-level.

But the Vikings (9-3, 6-0) didn't have to rely on excitement to get them going.

Putting the ball in play was their best friend.

The opportunistic Jones picked up his second gift double of the game when he hit a fly ball to left field in the sixth inning.

Canyon's Chile Viall backed up on the ball, then adjusted too late when he realized it wasn't as deep as he thought.

Jones would come around on a Gavin wild pitch to set the score at 5-2.

Jones was 3-for-3 in the game.

Despite the mistakes, Canyon head coach Brandon Montemayor was encouraged by his team's play.

The Cowboys opened league play with a 10-3 loss to Valencia and Corrales.

"From the beginning of the season, I've asked one thing. Get us into the sixth and seventh inning and get us in a position to win," he said. "We did what we needed today."

But Valencia's formula of great pitching and situational and opportunistic hitting has continued to fuel its drive to the top of the Foothill League.

"All of our starters have stepped it up," Dingman said of the pitching staff of Corrales and Robbie Mouselli. "Every game is unbelievable. They're locked in. They've taken a lot of pressure off us."

Mouselli has been the embodiment of the offense of late.

He was 2-for-2 in the game and was hit by a pitch.

He has now reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances.

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