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Foothill League baseball: Rain doesn’t dampen Hart

Vogel pitches well despite conditions; four-run fifth inning lifts Indians by Saugus

Posted: March 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hart starter Erik Vogel delivers a pitch against Saugus on Wednesday at Hart High School. Vogel allowed two runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings to pick up the victory.

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Hart pitcher Erik Vogel wasn’t fazed.

Not when his team fell behind early in the game.

Not when he gave up a home run.

He certainly wasn’t bothered by the rain, which pelted down throughout Hart’s 7-2 win over Saugus on Wednesday at Hart High School.

The Indians (8-1, 2-0) trailed 2-1 heading into the fourth inning with the strong possibility of the game being called early because of the weather.

“When things kind of went bad for a couple innings, Erik stuck with his plan and really kept after it,” said Hart head coach Jim Ozella.

Though the game had to be stopped several times to apply moisture-absorbing dirt on the pitcher’s mound and the area around home plate, all seven innings were played.

“That thing was just terrible,” Vogel said of the condition of the mound. “It was muddy. It was just terrible.”

Vogel allowed the two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings to improve to 2-0 this season.

As the game went on, pitchers on both sides struggled to get their footing and hitters had trouble accelerating out of the box toward  first base.   

“It’s not easy to pitch, it’s not easy to hit, it’s not easy to do anything,” Ozella said.

Vogel’s win was made possible by Hart’s four runs in the fifth inning, after which it led 6-2.

Saugus starter Justin Donatella limited the Indians’ bats until the fifth, but Saugus (3-5, 1-1) fell victim to a rally that included RBI hits by Luke Persico, Alex Tenorio and Connor O’Brien.

“We definitely wanted to pull ahead early because we knew our pitching would lock it down,” Persico said.

For the most part, the Centurions’ bats were kept quiet — or at least kept in the park.

Other than Evan Steen’s solo home run in the second inning, Saugus hit several balls deep into the outfield, but most ended up in the glove of a Hart outfielder.

“When we were hitting, we had too many fly-ball outs,” said Saugus catcher Nick Warren. “We didn’t really make their defense work.”

In the seventh inning, the Centurions gave a last gasp, loading the bases with one out.

But Hart reliever Bobby Stafford earned a strikeout and one final flyout to end the threat.

Saugus scored its other run off Connor Wilson’s RBI double in the third, which gave it a 2-1 lead.

Hart got its first two runs on an RBI single by O’Brien in the second and a Steve Rosso sacrifice fly in the fourth. Tommy Bilbo came across the plate on a wild pitch in the sixth to score the Indians’ final run of the game.

“I just told the guys I was quite impressed with their maturity and persistence,” Ozella said.

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