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Four up, two down

Valencia, Hart, Saugus advance in playoffs; Wildcats have bye

Posted: July 23, 2009 10:33 p.m.
Updated: July 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Valencia shortstop Timmy Lopes fields a ground ball against Simi Valley in the first round of the VIBL playoffs Thursday at Valencia High.

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Valencia opened its first round contest of the Valley Invitational Baseball League playoffs with a bang.

Viking leadoff man Christian Lopes drilled the first pitch he saw over the fence, setting off a seven-run first inning rally for the Vikings as they held on for a 14-11 victory over Simi Valley at home Thursday.

“Offense has not been a concern of ours all summer,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “We have been focused on finding a way to build our pitching, and today we struggled with control. We’ve been working on getting our pitchers to pitch to contact, and we struggled with that.”

The Vikings walked 10 men on the afternoon, nine of which scored, but their offense proved potent enough to overcome the 11 runs Simi Valley put on the board.

The first seven Valencia batters reached base and all seven crossed the plate.

“It’s really nice to get out to an early lead,” said Timmy Lopes, who went 4-for-4 on the afternoon. “Our bats came alive in the first, and it gives our pitchers a cushion which is good for them. They battled today.”

Valencia had another big inning in the fourth, which helped rebuild its initial lead after Simi Valley put up a five spot in the third.

Garrett Adamaniak and Timmy Lopes keyed the rally with a pair of base-clearing doubles, Lopes knocking home a pair and Adamaniak driving home three.

Vikings starting pitcher Justin Hanks rebounded to pitch a shutout fourth for the win.

The Vikings offense should be in shape for a while with Christian Lopes heading into his junior year, and Timmy Lopes and Trey Williams, who had three hits, heading into their sophomore campaigns.

It was Williams first game playing in the summer league.

“It was cool to be back out their with my team,” Williams said. “We have a great group of guys so it was cool to be back out there. I was focused on staying on the ball, and I think I did a pretty good job of that.”

Valencia will continue on in the 32-team tournament on Saturday.

Hart also picked up a win in its first round contest, defeating Kennedy 11-1.

The Indians scored in each of the first four innings to build a 10-0 lead.

Pat Valaika came up with a three-run double to break the game open in the third and Garrett Gooding had three hits and nailed down the win with a pair of shutout innings to close the door on Kennedy.

“I was really pleased with how we played defense today,” said Hart head coach Jim Ozella. “We’re trying to end the summer on a positive note, and I think games like the one we played today are a positive step toward that.”

Saugus was also in the win column with a double-digit tally, dropping Granada Hills 11-5.

Brad Buchignani had three hits with a home run, and Justin Sheehan had three RBIs.

“It’s a good win because it means we get to keep on playing,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “We look at this kind of like it’s a rehearsal for the regular season because it is the same format as the CIF tournament. One loss and you are done.”

Tommy Kister threw five innings, allowing four runs for the win.

“Tommy struggled a bit when he got out there,” Maggiora said. “He locked in during the last three innings he pitched, and shut them down. He gave us what we needed from him today.”

While a trio of Foothill League teams had offensive outbursts on Thursday the same wasn’t true for Canyon, which could not push a run across until the seventh inning when Alex Banta knocked home the Cowboys’ first score in a 9-1 loss to Alemany on the road.

“It’s the end of summer ball for us, and I think it has been a beneficial experience,” said Canyon head coach Adam Schulhofer. “We need to compete, and we feel like we are getting there considering where we are coming from.”

The Cowboys still managed to win seven VIBL games over the summer, which Schulhofer sees as a positive step for the Canyon program.

“We have a really good group of guys,” Schulhofer said. “I’m happy with the progress we have made, and we have gotten some solid contributions from our younger guys.”

Golden Valley’s VIBL season also came to an end Saturday as they fell 4-1 on the road to Chatsworth.

“We played really good considering we are missing three or four of our players,” said Golden Valley head coach Scott Drootin. “I was very proud of our kids because they never gave up.”

Kamran Young was a bright spot on the mound for the Grizzlies, coming on in relief in the third inning and allowing two runs.

“I try to tell the kids it is not alright to say lose, and it was close,” Drootin said. “Really, for them to get better they need to know they can win those types of games. A team with a little more confidence would have won today.”

The three Foothill League winners from Thursday and West Ranch, which had a bye, will all be in action on Saturday in the second round of the tournament.

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