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Hart baseball wins Foothill with a walk-off

League title can be outright with a victory Thursday

Posted: May 13, 2014 10:11 p.m.
Updated: May 13, 2014 10:11 p.m.

Hart's Paul Richan, second right, is smothered by his tea mates after a two-run hit in the seventh inning to win the game against Saugus at Hart on Tuesday.


It’s fitting that Hart High baseball clinched at least a share of the Foothill League championship with a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Saugus Centurions on Tuesday at Hart High School — the Indians first title since 2008.
It’s fitting because of this season in comparison to 2013.

Going into the 2013 season, the Indians were a very early Foothill League favorite until three players were dismissed from the team for disciplinary reasons before the season.

Then the Indians played 17 one-run games and missed their first CIF-Southern Section playoff since 1986.
Lessons learned.

“Yeah, it eats at you. I’m not going to be dishonest,” said Hart head coach Jim Ozella of missing the postseason last year. “Not for my welfare, but the kids. I want them to reach their goals.

“The seventh inning was a sign of persistence. We don’t put our heads down. We learn from it and go on to the next at-bat, the next pitch.”

Hart starting pitcher Jack Ralston nearly matched Saugus’ Anthony Donatella in easily one of the best pitched Foothill League games of the season.

Except Ralston hit Rex Kemple with a pitch to lead off the top of the fourth inning.

Kemple stole second base, was sacrificed to third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Roy Verdejo.

Donatella just had to finish the Indians off in the bottom of the seventh inning after allowing just three Hart baserunners through the first six innings.

However, in a game with so little margin for error, Hart took advantage of every small opening the Centurions provided them.

Indian Colby Kaneshiro struck a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Chad Haslock followed with another single.

Donatella induced a fly out from Pearson Good.

Then Wes Fitzpatrick hit sharply to second baseman Troy Williams, who bobbled, recovered then threw.
Fitzpatrick beat the throw.

Paul Richan then grabbed a bat to pinch hit.

“My energy went through the roof,” Richan said. “I was in the bullpen with a bat, going through the situations.”

Richan said he thought with Donatella on the ropes and needing to throw strikes with the bases loaded that he would come at him with fastballs.

On a 2-2 count, Richan lined a fastball that first baseman Ty Faulconer dove for and smothered. He recovered but Richan was already near first base so Faulconer’s only play was at home.

Pinch runner Julian Rea had already crossed the plate, then Haslock beat the throw for the game-winning run.

“Last year was frustrating. We were fighting all the time,” Ralston said, alluding to the one run games.
Reminded that this one was a one-run game, he said, “It’s OK, though.”

Ralston pitched a complete game, striking out four, walking none, allowing four hits and hitting two batters.

He got stronger as the game went on and began to find more success when he started using his changeup effectively.

Donatella, on the other hand, went 6 2/3 innings, allowed six hits, struck out six and walked none.

“He didn’t deserve to lose,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora.

Hart needs to beat Saugus on Thursday or hope for a Valencia loss against Golden Valley to clinch an outright title.

Saugus is tied for third place in the Foothill heading into the final regular seasons game of the year.


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