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VIBL: Back to front

West Ranch advances to quarters of VIBL playoffs

Posted: July 23, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 23, 2011 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch’s J.D. Krauskopf makes a backhanded stab on a ground ball on Friday at West Ranch High in the second round of the VIBL playoffs.

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West Ranch became accustomed to playing from ahead during its run to the Valley Invitational Baseball League regular-season championship.

In the second round of the VIBL playoffs, the Wildcats had to play from behind - twice.

West Ranch third baseman Justin Hovis hit a game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the sixth and a game-winning two-RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, and the Wildcats beat Agoura 6-5 on Friday at West Ranch High School.

The Wildcats will be joined in the quarterfinals by Saugus, which routed Burroughs of Burbank 18-7 on Monday.

West Ranch's road to the quarters was far from an easy one Friday, particularly after falling behind 5-1 to Agoura in the top of the ninth.

"You take away the top of the ninth, and I thought we played a very solid game," said Wildcats head coach Casey Burrill. "It would have been unfortunate if that's how our summer ended."

West Ranch (19-2) started stringing hits together in the bottom of the ninth and chipped away with RBI singles by Michael Silva, Jake Miura and Jagger Rusconi.

Then Hovis came to the plate.

Down 0-2 in the count, the senior sent an outside fastball into right field, plating the two game-winning runs.

"That's why they're the No. 1 seed," said Chargers head coach Tom Seyler. "I told the guys, ‘You played great up against the wall, but they showed why they are the No. 1 seed.'"

Agoura broke the 1-1 extra-inning tie with four runs in the top of the frame, highlighted by Justin Cana's two-RBI single.

Prior to those runs, however, the game was defined by strong pitching and stellar defense, particularly by West Ranch shortstop J.D. Krauskopf and his counterpart Tyler Cohen, both of whom made multiple diving stops and equally difficult throws.

Agoura struck first by scoring on a fielder's choice in the sixth inning.

But Hovis responded for West Ranch by driving the ball over the right-field fence and knotting the score at 1-1.

"We've never really been down all season," Hovis said. "It was a different position for us. We had to battle as a team and together, we got through it."

Hovis finished 3-for-5, while Miura was 4-for-4. Matt Guerrero earned the win, pitching 1/3 innings of relief in the top of the ninth. J.C. Cloney started the game and pitched four innings of shutout ball. He struck out the side in the second and finished with five total strikeouts.

Cana led Aguora by going 4-for-5, while starter Jordan Shulman's six strong innings went to waste.

Meanwhile, Saugus moved on with its win over Burroughs, paced by 19 hits.

The Centurions allowed three hits and committed seven errors.

Chad Bennett earned the win for Saugus, which beat Gas House Gang 2-1 in the first round.

Hart lost Friday in the second round 5-2 to Harvard-Westlake and finished with a final record of 11-5.

The Indians beat Loyola 3-2 in the round 1.

Canyon, Golden Valley and Valencia all lost in the first round on Wednesday.

Saugus will play at Chatsworth in the quarterfinals, while West Ranch will host the winner of Woodland Hills West and the Braves.

Both games are set for 5 p.m. starts on Monday.



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