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Saugus gets coveted third playoff spot

Posted: May 15, 2009 9:44 p.m.
Updated: May 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Saugus has been known for its defense all season long, but with a playoff spot on the line Friday, the Centurions simply bashed their way into the postseason.

Starting with a seven-run second inning, Saugus pounded out 14 runs on 14 hits – including two home runs from senior Zach Vincej – in a 14-10 victory over Valencia at Saugus High School.

The win earns Saugus (15-11, 10-5) the Foothill League’s final guaranteed playoff spot for the CIF-Southern Section Division I postseason, while Valencia (19-7, 12-3) is the outright league champion.

“We really put it together as a team,” Vincej said. “We were trying to get good pitches to hit, and we got them. We wanted to make a statement that we belong in the playoffs.”

The statement began in the bottom of the second, after Valencia took a 1-0 lead in the top of the inning thanks to an RBI single by Alex Bishop that scored Quincy Quintero.

Saugus’ James Threw doubled to lead off, Matt Emerson singled and Aaron Hooper reached on an error to load the bases. Justin Sheehan then chopped into a fielder’s choice, but Threw raced home to tie the score and the throw to second was late so the bases stayed loaded.

Brett Piper took advantage by plating Emerson and Hooper with a single, and a subsequent double by Stefan Cordes scored Sheehan and Piper.

Vincej followed with his first home run, a towering shot to center field that gave Saugus a 7-1 lead.

“We played with playoff intensity,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “We looked at it as the playoffs starting earlier. I’m really proud.”

After the big inning, the Centurions matched Valencia’s offense the rest of the way.

In the top of the third, Vikings shortstop Christian Lopes blasted a long home run to left field off Saugus starter Kyle Hooper that also scored Taylor Dingman.

The home run was Lopes’ 14th on the season, a new school record.

But Piper came through with an RBI single to score Aaron Hooper in the bottom of the frame, and Vincej hit an RBI groundout to plate Sheehan.

“Every time we got close, they answered,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “They did a great job.”

Lopes scored Bishop with an RBI single in the fourth, and once again, Saugus countered in the bottom half with a sacrifice bunt by Aaron Hooper that scored Threw and gave Saugus a 10-4 lead.

Quintero hit a three-run homer for Valencia in the fifth with Alex Pitman and Scotland McKenzie on base, and pinch-hitter Adam Tapia came through with an RBI double to score Bishop and pull Valencia within two runs at 10-8.

Cordes led off the fifth with a solo shot, and Vincej and Nick Lombardi each scored on RBI singles by Threw and Aaron Hooper.

Vincej launched a solo shot to center field in the sixth, his second homer of the game.

In the seventh, Valencia’s R.J. Mundell hit a two-run homer down the left-field line with Bishop on base, but the Vikings didn’t score again.

Vincej was 2-for-4 with the two home runs, three runs scored and four RBIs for Saugus, while Cordes was 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs.

“I’ve played here for four years, and I love everything about this program,” Vincej said. “It’s not over yet. I’m glad our seniors contributed.”

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