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Prep baseball: Vikings win classic clash

Valencia beats team coached by Bud Murray’s son

Posted: April 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valencia catcher Brian Mundell rounds third base after hitting a home run on Saturday at Valencia High.

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Valencia baseball’s contest on Saturday afternoon with Rocklin High School in its second game of the Anaheim Lions Tournament may have been better categorized as a friendly game.

With Rocklin head coach Roc Murray being a former Hart Indian, and the son of longtime Hart head Coach Bud Murray, and Valencia head coach Jared Snyder being a former assistant to Bud and a family friend of the pair, there were plenty of niceties to go around.

But on the diamond, there was still a game to be played — and Valencia wasted no time showing the bats that have caused it problems during the first half of Foothill League play were as alive as ever in a 4-3 victory at Valencia High School.

Vikings senior Trey Williams and Keston Hiura led off the game with back-to-back home runs to put Valencia ahead 2-0 after the first inning, and Brian Mundell added another solo shot in the sixth for a 3-1 lead.

“These guys can flat out hit the ball,” Murray said.

But it was the Vikings’ lone manufactured run of the day that proved the difference.

After Rocklin (2-6) tied the game in the top of the seventh on a two-run home run by Christian Bennett, Valencia’s A.J. Balta came up in the bottom of the eight with the bases loaded and the score still tied at three.

Balta sent a 2-2 pitch just fair down the first base line to score Williams from third and hand Valencia (7-4) its second victory of the day after defeating Lompoc High 7-0 early at Valencia High.

“That’s the key hit with bases loaded we haven’t had a lot of success from,” Snyder said. “For A.J. to step up, that was the kind of thing we’ve been preaching.”

On the mound, Valencia received a stellar start from Chris Castellon, who went six innings, allowing four hits, one run and two walks while striking out nine.

Leading by two entering the final inning, the Vikings went with J.D. Busfield, who has missed nearly four week with an injury, and the Thunder capitalized on Bennett’s two-run shot.

“He wasn’t ready to go on Wednesday,” Snyder said referring to the Vikings’ last game. “We gave him extra days off. He was throwing today no matter what. The plan was to get him one inning and I though he did really well.”

That set up Balta’s late-game heroics.

Snyder said he hopes to make playing Murray and Rocklin High an annual tradition, and plans to take the Vikings to play at Rocklin in the fall.

“It’s a big honor to be able to play against these guys ...,” he said. “It’s really a great experience for our kids to play kids from outside of the area and outside of the valley and (Rocklin’s) always a classy program. We’re going to try to make it a tradition. I love seeing (Murray). He’s a heck of a person to be around.”

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