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Prep baseball: Not so easy for ’Cats

West Ranch puts away pesky Golden Valley

Posted: April 28, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 28, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

Coming off a wrist injury, West Ranch pitcher J.C. Cloney knew he wouldn’t be on the mound for a full seven innings.
So he did his damage at the plate instead.

With the Wildcats trailing by a run in the bottom of the fifth and a runner on third with one out, Cloney sent a line drive down the left field line to tie the game and eventually came around to score in a 4-3 Wildcats’ win over Golden Valley on Friday at West Ranch High.

“He’s one of the better two-way players in the league,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “I thought they might walk him. We was walked earlier ( in the game). They didn’t (and he came up with) a big hit.”

The victory, combined with Valencia’s win over Hart and Saugus’ win over Canyon, puts the Wildcats (14-7-1 overall, 8-3 Foothill League) in a three-way tie for first place in the Foothill League with the Centurions and Indians with four games left.

But before the Wildcats could get to their upcoming matchup with Hart on Tuesday, they had to get past Golden Valley (4-17, 0-11) — something that proved harder than they imagined.

“I thought (Golden Valley) came out better than we’ve seen this season. I think we thought we’d show up to the yard, score some runs and call it a day,” Burrill said. “And that’s not what happened.”

After falling behind by two runs in the first inning, the Grizzlies battled back to tie the game in the third on an RBI-sacrifice fly from Josh Lampariello and an RBI-ground out from Adrian Carballo.

With the Wildcats struggling in the middle innings against reliever Nick Tejeda, Golden Valley took its first lead over West Ranch in three games when Adrian Carballo doubled home Lampariello for a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning.

“I was really happy with the effort,” said Golden Valley head coach Scott Drootin. “I don’t like to lose, but if you lose and you battle and you fight, I was proud of our guys.”

But in the bottom half of the inning, West Ranch’s Jagger Rusconi worked a leadoff walk before advancing to second on a balk and third on a groundout from Josh Heinz to set up Cloney’s game-tying double.

After an error and a walk, Casey Gahan brought home Cloney for the eventual winning run on a groundout to second.

Rusconi finished with two runs scored and an RBI, and Cloney went 2-for-2 with two doubles and the RBI and pitched three innings, allowing four hits, two runs and striking out five.

Avery Ortiz picked up the win in 3 1/3 innings, allowing one run and Michael Silva got the save by striking out the last two batters of the game.

Now, West Ranch is in control of its own destiny, with two games against Hart next week and two games against Saugus to close out the season.

“To say the next four games are the most important of the season is an understatement,” Burrill said.

But the Wildcats like their chances.

“We’re set up perfectly,” Cloney said.

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