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Valencia's instant impact

Posted: May 1, 2008 2:28 a.m.
Updated: July 2, 2008 5:03 a.m.

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For whichever high school Christian Lopes was going to, he was supposed to make an instant impact.

The 2006 National Youth Baseball Player of the Year has done just that for Valencia.

He drove the first pitch of the Vikings game against West Ranch Wednesday over the West Ranch High fence for a leadoff home run.

Valencia ended up defeating the Wildcats 9-5 and clinched a spot in the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs.

The Vikings (18-6, 10-2) trailed 4-1 going into the top of the fifth inning, but a six-run explosion in the frame gave Valencia enough to withstand the fledgling Wildcats (12-10, 6-6).

Lopes was 2-for-4 in the game, adding a double and scoring twice.

The home run was the freshman's sixth of the season.

"I wasn't thinking home run. I was just thinking base hit, get on," Lopes said.

He's helped key a Valencia offense that has surprised a lot of people.

Including at least one Viking.

Valencia added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh.

Taylor Dingman hit a home run to left-center field. Dylan Jones later put the Vikings up 9-5 with a sacrifice fly.

Dingman's blast was his sixth of the season - tying Lopes for the team lead.

"Six home runs? It's kind of surprising. I've never been a home run hitter," said the 5-foot-9, 165-pound player.

Valencia is still in the hunt for a Foothill League title as well, trailing first-place Hart by one game with three to play.

But the goal Valencia head coach Jared Snyder always puts in place before the season starts is making the postseason.

This is the eighth straight season the Vikings have made the playoffs.

"Not a whole lot was talked about us before the season," Snyder said. "Our kids took it personal and worked hard to get where we're at."

West Ranch, on the other hand, is clinging onto its playoff hopes.

The Wildcats trail third-place Saugus for the last playoff spot from the Foothill League by two games with three to play.

West Ranch and Valencia play Friday in an absolute must-win for the Wildcats.

But to them, Wednesday was also a must-win.

They grabbed an early lead after the Lopes home run with a pair of runs in the first inning.

Michael Browne knocked in a run with a double, then C.J. Woldanski gave West Ranch a 2-1 lead with an RBI single.

Two more crossed the plate for the Wildcats in the third inning when Woldanski knocked in a pair with a single.

He couldn't hold the lead on the mound, though.

Dingman started the fifth with a double and was followed by Dominic Solley, who singled him in.

Jones later plated another run with an RBI single.

Valencia's Robbie Mousselli knocked Woldanski out of the game with an RBI double that tied it 4-4.

"C.J. kept them off balance for four innings, then they started to string together (some) big hits," said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. "You have to tip your cap to them, that was the difference maker today."

West Ranch ace Charlie Gillies, relieving Woldanski, couldn't stop the bleeding.

Kyle Eaton singled in a run, then Gillies later walked Travis Amerian and Dingman with the bases loaded, scoring two more runs.

Woldanski, though, knocked in another run in the bottom of the fifth with a single.

He was 3-for-3 with four RBIs.

Valencia's Josh Corrales, despite not having his best stuff, pitched a complete game with six strikeouts, seven hits, three walks and four earned runs.

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