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Hart, Valencia fall in quarters

Vikings crushed on the road 13-2

Posted: May 24, 2008 9:02 p.m.
Updated: July 25, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Valencia High's Evan Siegel forces out a Simi Valley runner during the Vikings' 13-2 CIF quarterfinal loss on Friday afternoon.

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It looked so promising early.

But as fast as Christian Lopes leadoff home run cleared the left field wall, Valencia's ship sunk even faster.

In a season where the Vikings exceeded everyone else's expectations, their last game of the season was an aberration. The end result, a 13-2 blowout at the hands of Simi Valley.

The Vikings couldn't field. They had four errors.

"When you make four errors against a team like this you're not winning," Valencia coach Jared Snyder said.

They couldn't hit, mustering four hits aside from Lopes' two solo home runs. And they couldn't overcome a strong Pioneer team in the Southern Section CIF-Division I quarterfinals.

"We played probably our second worst game of the year," said Snyder alluding to the Vikings 13-3 loss to Hart on April 14 before they won nine of their next 10 games.

After Lopes, Valencia's freshmen phenom, belted his first inning shot, the Vikings got their next two batters on base, and situated at first and third. Senior third baseman Robbie Mousselli took off for second and on the overthrow by the catcher, Dylan Jones went home and scored.

But not so fast. The batter at the plate, catcher Tommy Ferndino was called out for batter's interference and the runners were sent back.

Simi Valley would get out of the inning without any further damage.

"It just went down from there and we couldn't pick ourselves up for some reason," Lopes said.

The damage for Valencia was done. The Vikings momentum was gone.

They'd get just three hits after that point. Snyder said he didn't think the umpire made the wrong call, but he did think the play changed the course of the game.

"It took the wind out of our sails," starting pitcher Josh Corrales said.

Corrales, the team's ace all season, couldn't corral Simi's bats. It didn't help that the right shoulder that helped him get a scholarship to Long Beach State didn't feel right. He started feeling discomfort before Tuesday's second round game but pitched through it. After an inning and a third Friday, Corrales couldn't go anymore. He signaled to Snyder and was taken out, having given up three runs on four hits.

"I'd rather lose and pitch the whole game than come out of the game so early and not have any control over it. Being a pitcher you have control of the whole game and once you're done you have no control of anything. I felt helpless out there."

But Corrales had no choice. He said he felt fine at the beginning but with every pitch, it seemed to get worse. Finally, after an error by Lopes in the top of the second inning to make the score 3-1, Corrales felt the final sting. And Snyder had no qualms about taking him out.

Citing a bright future at the next level, Snyder who gave Corrales a big hug after the game, wasn't going to play games with his ace's arm.

So Corrales had to watch his team unwind from the dugout. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Simi Valley scored eight runs on five hits, extending a 3-1 lead to 11-1 and putting the game out of reach.

It was a team effort. The defense didn't help the pitching. The pitching, with walks, wild pitches, and hit batters, didn't help the defense.

"It happened really fast," Corrales said. "It's kind of like a movie.

You're just sitting there while it's in fast forward and you feel like you can't do anything about it."

The Pioneers hit two home runs in the inning. They scored on a wild pitch. They scored on a bases loaded walk. It was one thing after another.

"It just spiraled out of control," Snyder said.

This was not indicative of Valencia's year, however, Snyder said. The Vikings were picked to finish fourth in the Foothill League and wound up finishing second. They got big performances from a number of seniors and their lone freshman. They won 22 games and stood in the final eight of Division I. Snyder called the senior class the "most unique team I've ever coached."

He raved about the way his kids responded all year. He told them he was proud of each and every one of them. He told his returners to look at the other dugout and learn from the way Simi Valley attacked in 2-0 counts. He was still coaching a team that gave him so much this season. In the end, they just didn't play like themselves. In one aspect, it couldn't drown out the big picture.

"Probably for us the most successful season that we've been involved with in our 10 years here," Snyder said.

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