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West Ranch: All alone at the top

In battle of top two Foothill teams, Wildcats prevail

Posted: April 16, 2009 1:22 a.m.
Updated: April 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.

West Ranch's Mitch Thompson, back, slides safely into home as Saugus catcher Dakota Hernandez turns during the sixth inning Wednesday at West Ranch High School. The Wildcats went on to beat the Centurions 9-2.

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In its first meeting with Saugus, West Ranch’s errors piled up to a loss.

In Wednesday’s rematch, the only things that piled up were West Ranch’s hits.

The Wildcats scored all nine of their runs over the final three innings and played solid defense to dispatch Saugus 9-2 and move into sole possession of first place in the Foothill League standings.

West Ranch fell behind 2-0 in the first inning when Saugus’ Aaron Hooper singled to score Brett Piper and Nick Lombardi, who moved into scoring position earlier thanks to an error.

From that point on, Wildcats starting pitcher Trevor Fredrickson buckled down and went the rest of the way to earn the win, allowing just six hits while striking out five.

“Right away, we give up two unearned runs,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “In the past, we would have said, ‘Here we go again.’ But Trevor settled down and we turned three or four double plays.”

The West Ranch defense committed two errors all game, as opposed to the four in the first meeting.

The bats took care of the rest.

After each hitter got a look at Saugus starter Tommy Kister, West Ranch (13-3, 5-1) began to tee off in the fourth inning. Cal Vogelsang doubled with one out to start things off, and Jake Bernards launched a triple to score Vogelsang and cut Saugus’ lead to 2-1.

After a groundout, Casey Watkins singled to score Bernards, and Mitch Thompson doubled home Watkins in the next at-bat to give West Ranch the lead.

“Hits are contagious,” Vogelsang said. “The bottom of the lineup was doing just as well as the top. We just kept going.”

West Ranch extended the lead in the fifth when Max Blaha singled to lead off. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Fredrickson, took third on an error and wound up scoring on Vogelsang’s RBI single.

Vogelsang capped the deluge in the sixth by hitting a grand-slam home run to straightaway center field, plating Jared Ortiz, Fredrickson and Nico Rusconi in the process. Thompson had scored earlier on an RBI single by Fredrickson.

“They are as good an offensive team as we’ve faced,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “They are a very well-coached hitting team.”

In the meantime, Saugus (8-7, 4-2) couldn’t put anything together against Fredrickson and the Wildcats’ defense. Only two Centurions even moved into scoring position at any point after the first inning.

“Defense was always going to be our strongest point,” Vogelsang said. “Our defense was good today. When we see Trevor on the mound, we know it’s going to be a must-win, and he’s got all the faith in the world in us.”

Kister took the loss, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing 10 hits before giving way to side-arm reliever Garrett Smith, who gave up the grand slam to Vogelsang.

West Ranch pounded out 12 hits, led by Vogelsang’s 3-for-4 day. Bernards and Blaha each collected two hits.
Hooper finished 1-for-3 with the pair of RBIs for Saugus, which will face West Ranch in a quick turnaround game at 3:15 p.m. Friday.

“(The first game) was not indicative of how they are, just like today was not entirely indicative of the way we are,” Maggiora said. “We will be throwing (ace Kyle) Hooper on Friday, and it will be a dogfight. To get back out there and face them again, it’s great.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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