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Prep baseball: Indians begin again

Youth-filled Hart team stumbles in its season opener

Posted: February 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hart shortstop Luke Persico fields a ground ball in the sixth inning on Friday at Hart High School.

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The first few weeks of the season for Hart baseball is going to involve a lot of lineup shuffling and tweaking of the starting rotation.

That’s out of necessity, given the amount of lost talent the team is replacing from last year’s graduating class.

The first test yielded mixed results for Hart, which lost 4-0 to Quartz Hill in the first game of the Southern California Showdown tournament on Friday at Hart High School.

“We had some positive things go down, saw some negative things go down,” said Hart head coach Jim Ozella. “You want to see some guys perform early in the season.”

Among the performers for the day was Indians starting pitcher Zach Hanks, who went five innings and allowed no runs, two hits and struck out seven.

It was the right-handed senior’s first career varsity start, and he didn’t have any trouble going after hitters and working from ahead in the count.

“I felt like I had good defense behind me, so it was good,” said Hanks, who follows two All-Santa Clarita Valley pitchers from a year ago, including Major League Baseball signee Tyler Glasnow.

But Hart (0-1) couldn’t come up with a key hit to give him run support despite numerous opportunities.

Twice the Indians had runners in scoring position with less than two outs, but Quartz Hill (1-0) was able to work out of jams.

The best chance came in the fourth inning when Cody Miller led off with a double. Later in the inning, Connor O’Brien and Weston Fitzpatrick reached on errors to load the bases with two outs, but a hard-hit line drive by Luke Persico was snagged in left field to end the threat.

Hart stranded 10 baserunners in all.

“I think (we) relaxed and our pitching kept us in the game,” said Rebels head coach Aaron Kavanagh. “If they cash in on a few of those runs early, we don’t have a chance.”

Things came apart for the Indians in the six inning when the Rebels strung together base hits and moved runners along to score three runs off four hits against Hart reliever Tyler Webb.

Jeremy McBride got it started with a bloop RBI-single into right field.

Clayton Rabiej and Ty Boyles also added RBI singles in the frame.

Quartz Hill reliever D.J. Milam picked up the win on the mound, pitching the fifth, sixth and seventh innings while allowing three hits and fanning five batters.

Once he settled into a groove, the young Hart lineup that returns just one senior struggled to mount any kind of rally.

On the positive side, Hart did get a good look at a potential ace in the starting rotation.

“I don’t want to assume anything,” Hanks said. “I’ll go wherever they want me to be. As long as I’m pitching, I’m happy.”

The Southern California Showdown resumes today at 11 a.m. for Hart, which travels to play Westlake in the second game of pool play.


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