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Prep baseball:Hart finds a new way

Indians capitalize on mistakes to close out Canyon

Posted: April 19, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 19, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

In order to earn the Foothill League title, Hart’s going to have to win games like it did on Wednesday.

Despite Canyon consistently putting runners in scoring position, the Indians took advantage of a couple of mistakes and beat Canyon 2-0 on Wednesday at Hart High School.

“We haven’t won a close, well-pitched game like that,” said Indians head coach Jim Ozella. “Over the course of the year, you’ve got to win games a lot of different ways. It’s good for us.”

A Cowboys base runner reached second in four different innings. That included the seventh, when pinch-hitters Jacob Emery and Jason McKenna singled and walked, respectively, to put runners on first and second with two outs.

That forced Ozella to send closer Ricky Torres out to replace starting pitcher Jesse Posey, who turned in a strong effort on the mound. All it took was one Torres pitch before Canyon’s Jacob King grounded out to end the game.

Posey gave up just five hits in the shutout victory.

“It’s really easy to go and get ground balls with a good defense behind you,” Posey said. “I just went for ground balls, pop-ups. I only had one strikeout.”

Hart (12-7 overall, 7-1 Foothill League) pushed its runs across in the third and fifth innings.

Wes Fitzpatrick singled to lead off the third, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Joseph Bilbo and then went to third on a balk by Canyon starter Justin Stark. Nick Valaika later hit a sacrifice fly to score Fitzpatrick.

In the fifth, Matt Machin was hit by a pitch and moved to second when the Cowboys (6-14, 2-6) misplayed a bunt. He got caught between second and third on a steal attempt, but Stark fired a hard throw to third that missed everyone, allowing Machin to scamper home.

Machin, Fitzpatrick and Bilbo all came through for Hart at the bottom of the order.

“We’ve been successful with our lower half this season,” Ozella said. “Hopefully, we can continue that.”

This marks the sixth loss by two runs or less this season for Canyon, which is getting good starting pitching but can’t seem to make as many plays.

“At some point in time, our team is not going to give so much and they’re going to win a ball game,” said Canyon head coach Adam Schulhofer. “I love to be in a game, but I think we’ve got a lot more to offer.”

A couple of defensive gems helped Hart’s cause. King doubled with two outs in the third, but Hart shortstop Luke Persico chased down a hard-hit grounder by Kevin Morrice and threw him out.

In the sixth, Morrice led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout. Indians first baseman C.J. Witkowski
sprinted down the line to snag a foul ball hit by Chris Serrano for an important second out, and Posey induced another groundout to end the threat.

Stark pitched well for Canyon despite the loss, giving up five hits over six innings. First baseman Blake Reagan walked twice for the Cowboys.

Witkowski was the only Indian with two hits.

Thanks to Valencia’s victory over West Ranch on Wednesday, Hart now has a two-game lead atop the Foothill League standings. The Indians will face Canyon again on Friday on the road.

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