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Vikes stunned

Vikings rally, but fall short against Vista Murrieta

Posted: May 22, 2009 10:02 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
In a game where offensive firepower was on full display, the shortest hit of the day made the biggest difference.

With runners on second and third in the top of the eighth inning, Vista Murrieta called a double steal and Joe Ortuno laid down a perfect bunt that scored both runners, leading to a 10-9 victory over Valencia in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs at Valencia High School.

The Foothill League champion Vikings (19-8) got a two-run homer from Christian Lopes, his 15th of the season, with Dominick Solley on base in the bottom of the eighth, but couldn’t muster one last hit.

Valencia rallied from a 7-0 deficit with a seven-run fifth inning, capped by a grand slam from Alex Bishop.

“We never quit, and that’s the big thing,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “We’ve got to learn from it and we’ll come back.”

Quincy Quintero led off the big fifth inning with a single, and after Vista Murrieta starter Nathan Svenonius induced a groundout and a popout, Kyle Eaton singled home Quintero to score the first run.

Dylan Jones followed with another single, and after Alex Pitman drew a walk, Scotland McKenzie doubled home Eaton and Jones.

Trey Williams walked to load the bases, and Bishop clocked a high fly ball to left field that tied the game.

“I wanted to keep it simple and hopefully find a hole,” Bishop said. “We were a little flat, so I wanted to wake us up a little bit. I was just fortunate to drive it.”

Neither team scored again until Vista Murrieta went to work in the eighth. Austin Cusack singled off Jones, moved to second on a groundout and took third on a wild pitch before scoring on a double by Brodie Callahan.

Holgar Robalino was intentionally walked, and he and Callahan each advanced a base on a double steal. With the infield shifted, Ortuno squeezed his bunt to an open spot down the first-base line and both runners scored.

“That’s a great job of execution by (Ortuno),” said Broncos head coach Dave Legg. “It’s not necessarily a squeeze situation. Part of what we do is surprise.”

Vista Murrieta built its lead with good hitting and opportunistic play. Cusack singled to lead off the game, Ty Afenir reached base on an error and both runners wound up scoring on a single by Robalino.

In the third, Afenir led off with a solo home run, and Cusack doubled in the fourth to score Jaison Craig and Jeff Moberg. Callahan later doubled to score Cusack, and Robalino hit a sacrifice fly to plate Afenir, who had reached on a wild pitch.

“We have a bunch of young kids like they do,” Legg said. “I’d love to be able to have our guys stand up there and swing away, but we were looking for ways to score runs with the guys we have.”

Vikings starting pitcher Nick Rivas lasted 3 1/3 innings of five-run, five-hit ball before giving way to Eaton, who lasted until the top of the sixth. Jones took the loss in relief.

Bronco reliever Tyler Simmons earned the win, allowing six runs on eight hits.

Lopes went 3-for-4 with the homer to lead the Vikings, while Solley was 2-for-4.

Valencia loses Solley, Jones, Pitman, R.J. Mundell, Michael Mouselli and Taylor Dingman to graduation.

“We won the Foothill League championship and we worked our butts off to get to that point,” Lopes said. “It’s tough to lose like this, but baseball’s baseball. It eats you up but you’ve got to come back to it.

“I learned a lot from this group of guys and we’ll come back next year.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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