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Vikings empty Fountain

Posted: May 16, 2008 2:13 a.m.
Updated: July 17, 2008 5:01 a.m.

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Valencia's Josh Corralles was one out away from tossing a complete game shutout in a first round, CIF Southern Section Division I playoff match up against Fountain Valley on Thursday.

With two outs and a 2-0 lead in the top of the seventh, Corralles did not allow a single run to score in his previous 82 pitches. Then, on his 83rd pitch, he hung a ball down the middle of the plate to Fountain Valley's Stephan Robb.

The senior catcher wasted no time connecting on the 1-0 pitch, as Robb watch the ball sail over the right center field fence, cutting the Vikings (21-7, 12-3) lead in half, 2-1.

Corralles shrugged his shoulders as he watched the home run clear the fence, and turned around to prepare for the next batter, who turned out to be the game's last when he flew out to right field four pitches later, as the Vikings held on for a 2-1 victory at home.

"The home run didn't bother him at all," Vikings head coach Jared Snyder said about Corralles, who earned his first playoff victory. "Josh has been getting out of tight spots all season long. He wasn't worried about that hit."

Perhaps Snyder did not think Corralles was all that worried, but Fountain Valley (12-14, 7-8) definitely put pressure on the senior pitcher all game long.

Despite a low pitch count and tossing six and two-third shutout innings, the Barons threatened to score off of Corralles on several occasions, most notably in the fourth inning.

In that inning, Matt Bryant and John Spirk led off with consecutive doubles. However, on Spirk's double, Bryant rounded third base and was waved home in an attempt to tie the score at 1-1. Fountain Valley's third base coach misjudged the throw from center field, which made it to home plate well before Bryant did.

Yet the Barons got a base hit and a walk to load the bases, before Robb hit into a double-play to end the Fountain Valley threat.

"They definitely put a lot of pressure on me, especially in that fourth inning," Corralles said. "But my defense had my back and made sure we got out of that inning."

The Vikings offense helped ease the pressure a little more in the fifth inning, when Christian Lopes' base hit brought home Michael Mouselli, the team's only earned run.

Yet Valencia's defense kept Fountain Valley at bay all game long, as they helped Corralles maintain a shutout for almost an entire game by keeping the ball in the infield and converting ground balls into timely outs, preventing the Barons from scoring runs. Three of five Baron runners left on base were in scoring position when the inning's third out was recorded.

"Our defense has been phenomenal all year long," Snyder said. "Corralles is a ground ball pitcher, and his style fits our defensive set up. The really know how to play catch."

Valencia struck first, when they scored an unearned run in the bottom half of the first inning. Dylan Jones reached first on a fielder's choice and botched double-play attempt. Moments later, Jones stole second base, then reached third when the catcher's throw to second base ended up in shallow center field. He scored on a Robbie Mouselli sacrifice fly ball to right field.

However, the story of the game was pitching, as both starting pitchers went the distance, each allowing only one earned run.

Corralles tossed a complete game, giving up one run on four hits, striking out two and allowing one walk. For the Barons, senior Robert Johnson pitched six innings, also a complete game, allowing two runs - one earned - on four hit.

He struck out six and walked two.

With the victory, Valencia advances to the second round of CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs, where they will face off against Lakewood. A coin toss will take place that the CIF Southern Section offices in Los Alamitos to determine which team will host the game.

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