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Hart of champions

Posted: May 8, 2008 3:22 a.m.
Updated: July 9, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Hart pitcher Mike Montgomery throws to West Ranch in the fifth inning of his team's 6-0 win on Wednesday afternoon. Hart pitcher Mike Montgomery throws to West Ranch in the fifth inning of his team's 6-0 win on Wednesday afternoon.
Hart pitcher Mike Montgomery throws to West Ranch in the fifth inning of his team's 6-0 win on Wednesday afternoon.
The current attitude of Hart baseball can be summarized in two words: Not satisfied.

With a 6-0 win at West Ranch on Wednesday afternoon, Hart assured itself at least a share of the Foothill League title, a feat it hasn't accomplished since 2001. But the Indians are looking toward the future; Friday when they can win the title outright and next week when the CIF playoffs begin.

"We don't want to tie, none of this tying stuff," said starting pitcher Michael Montgomery.

The senior southpaw was dominant in his 10th start of the season, winning his seventh while striking out nine and giving up just three hits in six innings of work. That type of outing earned itself the adjective inconsistent.

"I struggled to find the zone a little bit and eventually I found it well enough to give us a chance so it worked out good," Montgomery said.

Over the season, Hart has been consistently good, winning 13 of their 14 league games including two of three against Valencia who trails the Indians (20-16, 13-1) by one game with one remaining but lost the season series.

With a fastball that hits the 90s, Montgomery was able to overcome a lack of location on his secondary pitches, the curveball and the changeup. As West Ranch hitters whiffed on the heater, Montgomery kept Hart ahead before the offense finished off the Wildcats.

Junior first baseman Devin Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, and a walk. His single up the middle in the first inning got Hart on the board and gave it a lead it would never surrender.

"(West Ranch starter CJ Woldanski) was throwing a lot of off-speed and just kind of sat back and he left a couple of pitches that I could hit," Rodriguez said.

Senior third baseman Jenzen Torres continued his recent torrid pace at the plate from the eighth spot in the lineup, going 2-for-4 and knocking in two runs, one in the top of the fourth and another in the top of the 6th that extended the lead to 3-0.

Hart coach Jim Ozella pushed Torres down in the lineup earlier in the season to build up his confidence and the lineup adjustment has worked. Torres is 4-for-8 with five RBIs in his last three games.

"We told him hey, now is the time to get hot," Ozella said.

Woldanski held his own opposite Montgomery but his defense let him down at times.

Woldanski went 6 and 1/3 innings, giving up five runs (two earned) on six hits, walking two and striking out two.

The Wildcats (12-12, 6-8) made four errors behind him.

"CJ looked fantastic...we didn't give him a whole lot of support defensively and of course we had a difficult time hitting Montgomery today," West Ranch coach Casey Burrill said.

The Wildcats will miss the playoffs and will finish in fourth place, but they were no easy out this season in a league Ozella hopes will prove to be strong when it comes to playoff seedings on Monday.

Winning the Foothill League for Hart is the appetizer. They hope chowing down in the playoffs will be the main course.

"I hope we have better baseball in front of us," Ozella said. "I hope so, I hope when we get to the playoffs we raise it up a little more. I think we're capable."

With one more regular season game against West Ranch, the anticipation is beginning to boil over. Satisfaction is waiting.

"After Friday, it's a new season," Rodriguez said. "Win five straight and get that ring."


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