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Prep baseball: Knights ahead of the curve

Trinity outplays another new program to boost playoff possibilities

Posted: May 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Trinity’s Jash Waschack, right, beats the throw to Hillcrest Christian’s Logan Baltan on Saturday at TMC.

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It was a battle between two upstart programs, but only Trinity Classical Academy baseball is competing for a playoff spot.

On Saturday, Trinity kept those playoff hopes alive by taking advantage of walks, errors and aggressive baserunning in a 15-4 win over Hillcrest Christian of Thousand Oaks at Reese Field.

The Knights (5-8, 5-4) remain in third place in the Omega League, meaning a win against Valley Torah on Tuesday will likely lock down a berth into the CIF-Southern Section Division VII playoffs.

Both Trinity and Hillcrest are competing in their first-ever full varsity baseball seasons, but Hillcrest came in shorthanded
Even with the minimum nine players suited up, the Saints (0-8, 0-6) pushed a 3-3 tie into the third inning before Trinity dropped six runs to break things open.

“We’ve just got to come out hitting,” said Trinity freshman Patch Kulp, who went 2-for-2 and reached base in all five of his plate appearances. “When we’ve won, we’ve hit really well.”

Gio Hernandez pitched the entire game for Hillcrest, but had trouble finding the strike zone most of the day. He issued 13 walks and allowed six hits while striking out eight.

He wasn’t helped by the fact that his defense committed six errors and Trinty was continuously stealing bases.

“I have a pretty good eye on whether or not a guy can throw us out, so I knew we’d be able to run on them,” said Knights head coach Mike Buchanan.

Yet Trinity’s hitters weren’t able to drive many balls from the slow delivery of Hernandez.

“I saw that he threw one right down the middle that first pitch, so I just tried to remember that next time I was up,” Kulp said.

As the day went on, Kulp and the rest of the lineup started getting a hold of a few pitches, including a two-RBI double by Jordan Mumper in the third and an RBI double by Shane Larsen in the sixth.

Mumper’s double opened up the six-run rally in the third, which gave Trinity a 9-3 lead at the time.

“Coming from zero base knowledge to what you saw today against a very good team ... I’m very proud of them,” said Hillcrest head coach Robert Fanto.

On the pitching side, lefty James Brooks tossed the first two innings and allowed two earned runs, striking out five.

Sophomore Chris Buchanan earned the win in relief, retiring all nine batters he faced in the third, fourth and fifth innings. He struck out six.

“I wanted to make sure we got ahead, and I wanted to dominate them,” Chris Buchanan said.

Seven of Trinity’s runs scored on wild pitches, two scored on errors and another scored on a bases-loaded walk.

Hernandez hit a ground rule double and later scored in the seventh inning for the Saints’ final run.

The Knights host Valley Torah at the Hart Complex in Tuesday’s league finale.

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