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CIF baseball: Vikings can’t rise this time

Valencia asked one too many times to make a comeback

Posted: May 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

DANA POINT — After the usual postgame team meeting in left field, Valencia baseball coaches and most of the players walked back to the dugout like they always do.

This time, something was different.

All the senior players stayed behind. The group stood in a circle in left field for several minutes in a state of utter shock.

They were trying to come to terms with the idea that their high schools careers had just come to an end after losing to Dana Hills 8-6 in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs on Tuesday at Dana Hills High.

“We worked hard all season, trying to get better,” said one of the seniors, Quincy Quintero. “It’s just tough to go out like that on the road. But we did our best and had a great year.”

It was a year capped off by a roller-coaster ride of a game where the Vikings (21-7) came back from two separate deficits, but couldn’t overcome a third.

It was four days after Valencia’s 17-7 first-round victory over Moorpark when it trailed by as many as three runs, and had to rally back.

“Our kids won’t quit,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “They’re not going to let any outside factors affect them. That’s what’s so special about this group is they just battle and battle.”

For the second straight game, Quintero got the start in place of injured ace Nick Rivas, but the free-swinging Dana Hills lineup got after him quickly, scoring four runs off seven hits in the first two innings to take a 4-1 lead.

Quintero’s day on the mound was finished after 1 1/3 innings, but he would make up for it with a 2-for-3, two-RBI day at the plate.

Also pitching for the second time in as many games, fellow senior Jake Roberge came in to relieve Quintero and went the rest of the way.

This time, he couldn’t hold his opponent off, as the Dolphins (19-13-1) used aggressive base running and hitting to bring the winning runs across in the sixth inning.

It was Dana Hills’ third win against Valencia this season, with the first two coming at a USC tournament on April 23.

“They just had our number this year,” Snyder said. “It was just a long bus trip and inconsistency.”

The biggest rally of the game came in the Vikings’ half of the third inning, when they scored four runs off three hits, two walks and a Dolphins error.

Center fielder Alex Lightfoot scored on a wild pitch to get things going in the frame, followed later by Shane Zeile’s RBI single up the middle. On the play, Dana Hills center fielder Geoff Mather misplayed the ball, which allowed two runs to score and put Zeile on third base.

He scored on Brian Mundell’s single to give the Vikings their only lead of the game at 5-4.

Zeile finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored.

“We tried to hand them the game and I was very proud of my guys for not hanging their heads and coming back and hanging in there,” said Dolphins head coach Tom Faris. “At the same time, their team did the exact same thing.”

During the third-inning rally, Valencia chased off Dana Hills starter Eric Pierce, who gave way for another left-hander, Nick Carter.

Carter attacked the strike zone with fastballs and fanned some of Valencia’s best hitters with his curveball.

Other than Quintero’s RBI single in the sixth, which tied the game at 6-6, Carter didn’t have much trouble against the usually dangerous Vikings hitters.

Carter gave up an earned run off three hits in 4 1/3 innings, striking out four along the way.

The Dolphins, who finished tied for second in the South Coast League, were led by Peter Maris, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs. He also hit the eventual game-winning run in with a single up the middle in the sixth.

“It’s just unfortunate,” Snyder said. “It’s sad to see kids like this have to endure this. Really unfortunate.”

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