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Don’t forget about the Cents yet

Saugus baseball still not out of the Foothill title hunt after series victory

Posted: May 8, 2009 11:01 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Saugus pitcher Tommy Kister deals against Golden Valley on Friday at Saugus High. The Centurions won 17-5 to stay alive in the league title chase.

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With 18 hits and a nine-run first inning, Saugus High kept its Foothill League title hopes alive with a 17-5 win over Golden Valley on Friday at Saugus High School.

The win makes the Centurions 9-4 in league play, opening the door for a shot at the title, if they sweep a two-game series with first-place Valencia next week and Hart beats second-place West Ranch twice.

Each Saugus (14-11) starter picked up at least one hit in the win and six starters had RBIs, led by senior shortstop Zach Vincej, who went 3-for-3 with five RBIs.

“It all starts with him,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “When he’s hot, everyone follows. He’s just starting to get comfortable. He just started swinging two weeks ago (coming back from an injury).”

After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first, after an RBI single from Golden Valley starting pitcher Nicholas Rhoades, Saugus plated nine of their first 10 batters in the bottom half. A two-RBI double from Vincej started the scoring and the rally featured four infield hits.

“We just tried to come out and put the ball in play,” Vincej said. “It was a good team effort. We took advantage when they made mistakes.”

The Centurions’ first 11 runs (10 earned) came off Rhoades, who allowed nine hits (including a solo home run to Saugus first baseman Aaron Hooper in the second inning) and five walks in 1 2/3 innings. Rhoades started in replacement of scheduled starter Josh Smith, who showed up late because of an AP test.

Smith came on in relief in the fourth and allowed only two baserunners and struck out two in three shutout innings against a mostly reserve Centurions lineup.

“(Rhoades) shouldn’t have even been out there, but we needed him,” said Golden Valley head coach Scott Drootin. “I appreciate that we didn’t quit. This program is going to get better. You have to tip your hat to (Saugus) though. They did a tremendous job. They’re a good hitting team.”

Before Smith’s appearance, Grizzly relievers Kamran Young and Jonathon Granado allowed six runs over 1 1/3 innings.

As Golden Valley’s pitching faltered, Saugus’ staff remained consistent, limiting the Grizzlies (7-15, 2-11) to only two runs prior to the seventh inning.

Saugus starter Tommy Kister only went three innings, but retired the last seven hitters he faced, after surrendering four singles and a run in the first.

“He’s a ground-ball guy and sometimes those balls are going to find some holes,” Maggiora said. “But he knows what he’s doing and he went out and made adjustments.”

Saugus sophomore Brad Buchignani allowed a run in one inning of relief and junior left-hander Kevin Podratz allowed three unearned runs in three innings to close the game out.

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