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The new No. 1

Valencia takes sole possession of first place in league

Posted: May 8, 2009 11:19 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Valencia's Quincy Quintero reaches to field the ball against West Ranch Friday at West Ranch.

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When the day began, Valencia and West Ranch were tied atop the Foothill League standings with what figured to be another close battle between the league’s top teams scheduled.

However, Valencia had other ideas.

The Vikings built an early lead, chased West Ranch’s starting pitcher and rolled to a 22-6 win and sole possession of first place.

“This is not a league championship by any means,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “We don’t treat one game that way, but this was a game that we really wanted, and it was great to see our guys put together an effort like this.”

Valencia shortstop Christian Lopes went 5-for-5 with two home runs, two doubles and six RBIs.

The Vikings (18-6, 11-2) struck first when Lopes doubled to open the game, Kyle Eaton singled and Lopes came around to score on a double play,

The Wildcats (19-6, 10-3) answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning on a Jake Bernards shot to first base that got past Valencia’s Kyle Eaton.

“They came up with that first run, and we were able to come up with two so we were in it,” Bernards said. “But they took advantages of walks and the opportunities we gave them, and it turned into a pretty rough game.”

Valencia regained the lead in the second with a rally that was capped by a three-run home run by Dominick Solley.

The Vikings never trailed again, and erupted for 10 runs in the third. A pair of grand slams, one from Lopes and another from Scotland McKenzie, highlighted the frame as Valencia built a 12-run spread.

“We wanted to show who was the better team,” McKenzie said. “We know that they have a very good team, but we hit the ball really well today.”

A leadoff homer in the third from Dylan Jones ended West Ranch starting pitcher Allen Sarkissian’s day.

The Wildcats went through three more pitchers in the inning as the Vikings sent 14 batters to the plate.

“We executed our offense very well today,” Snyder said. “Our guys did what they were supposed to do up there. They were aggressive but they let the pitches that they wanted to hit come to them.”

With a wide early margin, David Hausman was able to work effectively for Valencia, tossing six innings, while allowing four runs and striking out six.

“Hausman was great,” Snyder said. “I think he had a little trouble getting adjusted to the mound in the first because it is different than the one we practice on, but once he settled in he was great.”

The Vikings maintained a 14-4 lead into the sixth before they pushed across six more runs on six hits. Lopes hit his second home run of the day to knock in a pair, and R.J. Mundell, who is still recovering from an injury, knocked home three with a single that went all the way to the fence.

“It’s a great feeling to win this game,” said Valencia third baseman Trey Williams. “We know we can’t be satisfied with this, but to hit like this is cool.”

Valencia put up some gaudy offensive numbers. Williams tallied four hits and Solley and McKenzie both drove in four runs.
West Ranch was led by two hits from Cal Vogelsang, Casey Watkins and Bernards. Watkins also hit a two-run homer in the seventh.

“We look at it like every game from here on out is a playoff game for us,” Bernards said. “We know that we can’t control what Valencia does any more, but if they slip up then we want to put ourselves in the position of being able to win this league.”

Both teams have a pair of games remaining, but Valencia now also holds the first-place tiebreaker based on their two wins over West Ranch this week.

“We have preached patience to our kids all year both on the field and overall,” Snyder said. “We know winning today helps us get closer to something we would like to accomplish, but we need to stay focused on each game.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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