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Foothill League baseball: Formula won

Using its own style, Saugus upsets West Ranch to improve to 4-1 in league

Posted: March 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Saugus High’s Andru Cardenas pumps his fist on his run towards home as West Ranch third baseman Justin Hovis, middle, and second baseman J.D. Krauskopf miss a line drive in the third inning on Wednesday at West Ranch High.

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Saugus baseball doesn’t have a reputation as the best hitting team in the Foothill League, nor the best pitching.

“We’re a little in between,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora.

Whatever the team is doing, there’s no question it’s working right now as Saugus toppled West Ranch 6-4 on Wednesday at West Ranch High School.

Saugus (8-3-1 overall, 4-1 Foothill League) moves into a three-way tie for first place in league, handing the Wildcats (8-2-1, 4-1) their first loss of the season to a Foothill foe.

The Centurions won their fourth straight game with a little bit of everything — a strong pitching performance from starter Justin Donatella, some timely hitting and a good dose of small ball.

“We don’t have a specific strategy for winning,” said Saugus senior Austin Rodriguez, who had two hits and two RBIs in the game. “We just have a really together team.”

Nick Shrode got to West Ranch starting pitcher Cody Bennett first with a two-out RBI single in the second to give Saugus a 1-0 lead, but the flood gates opened in a four-run fourth inning

After laying down what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt down the third base line, Saugus’ Kyle Mark reached on a West Ranch error, allowing two unearned runs to score.

With the Centurions’ lead at 3-0, Bennett’s day was done after four plus innings, but Saugus pushed two more runs across on RBIs by Rodriguez and Andru Cardenas.

It was 5-0 in favor of Saugus at that point.

“Saugus did a good job capitalizing on (the error),” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “I thought Saugus played really, really well.”

But the Wildcats weren’t done, scoring a run apiece in the fourth and fifth to chip away at the lead.

Donatella held strong for six innings though, pitching out of pressure situations in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to eventually earn the win.

He ended up allowing two earned runs off eight hits, including an RBI single by Jake Bird and a sacrifice fly by J.C.
Cloney that scored Justin Hovis.

West Ranch threatened again in the seventh when two hits and an error kept a rally alive, leading to a bases-loaded, no out situation.

With a run already across in the frame and the go-ahead run at the plate, Saugus reliever Chad Bennett put three straight Wildcat hitters down and allowed just one run along the way to notch the save.

“The nerves always get up in a situation like that,” Rodriguez said. “You’ve just got to have confidence that your teammates can get it done.”

That seems to be the winning formula for Saugus through the first third of the league season.

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