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Valencia played sold, took advantage of faltering teams to win league

Posted: May 13, 2009 9:49 p.m.
Updated: May 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Dylan Jones (9) of Valencia slides into second base, while avoiding the tag attempt from Brett Piper, right, Wednesday at Valencia.

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Ever since Valencia took part in a spring break tournament in Orange County, the Vikings have been on a different tier than the rest of the Foothill League.

Now the standings back it up.

Nick Rivas pitched an effective six innings and Valencia’s bats did the rest in a 10-3 win over Saugus Wednesday at Valencia High School.

Combined with Hart’s victory over West Ranch, Valencia (19-6, 12-2) clinches the league championship outright. The Vikings have won 12 straight games after dropping the finale of the OC Nissan Tournament, which featured stiff competition.

It’s a different team than the one that went 3-2 to start the league slate.

“We had a rough start, but we got things together over spring break,” said Valencia senior Alex Pitman. “We’re more excited on the inside, knowing how hard we’ve worked.”

Much of the work Wednesday was put in by Rivas, who allowed at least one baserunner in his first five innings but only gave up one earned run and four hits.

“He’s been the guy on Wednesdays that’s done it for us,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “He gives us four to six innings every time. He’s a horse.”

Saugus’ Michael Soucy reached first on a fielding error in the third and later took second on a throwing error, and Stefan Cordes doubled to plate Soucy. In the fourth, Nick Lombardi doubled for the Centurions (14-11, 9-5) and wound up scoring on a fielder’s choice.

By that time, Valencia had already scored five runs of its own.

With two out in the first, Vikings outfielder Dylan Jones drew a walk and stole second before scoring on an RBI single by Pitman. Scotland McKenzie launched a towering shot to right field in the next at-bat for a two-run homer.

Pitman homered himself in the third inning after Jones doubled, and four more runs came across in the fourth to make the score 9-2.

Saugus starter Tommy Kister plunked Quincy Quintero in the first at-bat, and Quintero rounded the three remaining bases on wild pitches to score. Saugus reliever Brad Buchignani walked Christian Lopes, the first batter he faced, and Pitman later scored Lopes with a groundout.

Trey Williams later plated Jones and Kyle Eaton with a single, but Buchignani settled down and held Valencia largely in check the rest of the way.

“He was tentative at first but he finished out strong,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “That was a little bit of the future out there for us.”

Valencia scored its final run in the sixth when McKenzie plated Lopes with an RBI single. Jones pitched the seventh for Valencia and gave up an RBI double to Cordes that scored Justin Sheehan before closing things out.

Cordes had half of Saugus’ six hits, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Kister took the loss.

“They had nine hits and we had six,” Maggiora said. “Walks and hit batsmen hurt us, and Valencia did their job.”

McKenzie wound up 3-for-3 with three RBIs to lead Valencia, and Pitman was 2-for-3 with two runs and four RBIs.

“Our goal every year is to make the playoffs,” Snyder said. “We know if we put in the time and work, that will follow. I’m proud of how we kept our focus.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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