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Foothill League baseball: Lost in the mix

Valencia takes full advantage of Hart’s miscues

Posted: April 14, 2010 10:26 p.m.
Updated: April 14, 2010 10:21 p.m.

The Hart baseball team welcomes James Scott (9) after he hit a home run Wednesday at Valencia High. It was Hart's first home run this season.

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There are cases when one team doesn’t necessarily win a game, but the other team loses it.

That was the case on Wednesday at Valencia High when the Vikings defeated Hart 7-5 in a game the Indians led through 4 1/2 innings.

“Absolutely,” said Jim Ozella on if Hart lost the game more than anything else. “I don’t want to take credit away from Valencia, but we were up 3-0, we were up 5-3. ... We know the formula to be successful. What we’re disappointed in is this team hasn’t stepped it up when we need to step up.”

To say Hart (8-9, 2-4) has had a difficult time finishing games of late would be an understatement.

Hart led West Ranch in the seventh inning before losing on April 2. It dropped consecutive 4-3 games during spring break, during which the Indians led late in both contests. Hart trailed Corona 4-2 on April 6 going into the seventh inning before allowing five more runs in a 9-2 loss.

“We’re getting burned a lot,” Ozella said. “By walking people, by not making the key play, by not getting the key at-bat when we need the key at-bat.”

Pitching, and more notably, defense let the Indians down on Tuesday.

Hart led 3-0 after RBI singles from Pat Valaika and Alex Tenorio in the first inning and a safety squeeze that scored a run off the bat of James Scott in the third.

But things started to unravel in the fourth when Hart starter Garrett Gooding loaded the bases with a single and back-to-back walks in the fourth.

Valencia’s Shane Zeile followed with a line drive to left field that was mishandled allowing two runs to score. The Vikings (10-5-1, 6-0) got another run on a Trey Williams ground out.

The Indians got a pair back when Scott launched Hart’s first home run of the season — a two-run shot in the fifth.

But Valencia took advantage again in the fifth, as Tenorio, relieving Gooding, walked the first batter of the inning before surrendering a run-scoring single to Brian Mundell to cut the lead to 5-4.

The big blow, though, came when Zeile grounded to the usually sure-handed Valaika at shortstop.

Valaika threw the ball away, allowing two more runs to score.

With a 6-5 lead, Valencia’s James Bonds doubled to right field, but Thomas Bilbo was slow in picking up the ball, allowing another Viking to score.

Bonds was 3-for-4 in the game with two doubles.

“We had a meeting earlier this week about making contact,” Bonds said. “Stop striking out. When we strike out, we struggle. When we put the ball in play, we win.”

Valencia has had its own struggles of late.

After tearing through the Foothill League in the first third of the season, the Vikings fell flat against solid pitching in three consecutive spring break losses.

Then things started poorly for the Vikings on Wednesday.

“I think we were a little punch drunk from the (spring break) tournament,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “It took us a long time to get back to our routine.”

But Snyder said reliever Nick Rivas, Mundell and Bonds picked the team up.

Rivas’ only blemish in four innings was the home run. He struck out five Hart batters and was able to survive a seventh inning in which he gave up three singles.

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