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Viking staff stifles Wildcats

Valencia pitchers combine to give up just four hits, two runs against potent West Ranch offense

Posted: May 6, 2009 9:43 p.m.
Updated: May 7, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
One might have expected a high-scoring affair when the explosive offenses of West Ranch and Valencia got together Wednesday afternoon.

Instead, each team’s defense did a good job keeping the bats at bay – and the Vikings got one more run when they needed it.

Valencia took a two-run lead into the seventh before reliever Dylan Jones limited the potent heart of West Ranch’s order to secure a 3-2 victory at Valencia High School.

The win moves Valencia into a first-place tie in the Foothill League standings with the Wildcats (19-5, 10-2), who were ranked No. 1 in the latest CIF-Southern Section Division I poll.

The Vikings (17-5, 10-2) had to go through some antsy moments to get that win.

“We came in knowing West Ranch had a great squad,” Jones said. “We knew they were going to come out and perform. We just had to perform better.”

Jones came on in the seventh with runners on second and third and nobody out. A pair of strikeouts sandwiched a walk to West Ranch’s Casey Watkins, and after teammate Cody Howard knocked in Allen Sarkissian from third, Jones induced a line-drive out to end the game.

It was the final outstanding effort from a Valencia pitcher on the day, as Jones, Nick Rivas, Jake Roberge and Kyle Eaton combined to give up just four hits.

“Jones, Rivas and Eaton pitched outstanding today,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “I’m proud of our staff and the way they battled.”

West Ranch took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Sarkissian was hit by a pitch, moved to third on a double by Cal Vogelsang and scored on a sacrifice fly by Watkins.

Valencia tied things up in the fourth when Trey Williams skied a high pitch over the wall in right field. It was a home run aided by the strong winds at Valencia High School.

Dominick Solley drew a one-out walk in the fifth, and after Christian Lopes walked in the next at-bat, Solley moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a balk by West Ranch starter Trevor Fredrickson.

“I thought Trevor pitched well enough to get the win,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “When they needed runs, they got it done, and that’s baseball.”

Valencia’s Taylor Dingman was inserted into the game in the sixth, and Dingman made the most of his opportunity by smashing a triple to center field. Scotland McKenzie singled in the next at-bat to give the Vikings an insurance run that proved vital.

West Ranch beat Valencia 7-1 in the teams’ earlier meeting, but Snyder said his club has improved greatly.

“We’re not the same team as we were earlier,” he said. “The kids have gotten more poise. Our preseason schedule has helped the kids a lot. We played some tough schools, and we didn’t always come out on top, but it helped tremendously.”

West Ranch had at least one base runner in all but one inning, but the Valencia staff rarely gave in.

Valencia only had five hits, with Eaton, Jones, Dingman, McKenzie and Williams each collecting one apiece.

Howard went 1-for-2 with the RBI and two walks to pace West Ranch, while Sarkissian scored two runs and had a double.

The two teams will meet again Friday at West Ranch, with the winner having a leg up in the league standings.

“We had chances all day, and it just didn’t happen,” Burrill said. “We hit balls hard at people, and we didn’t catch breaks. Both teams know Friday’s game is probably for a league title.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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