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Foothill League baseball: Saugus strikes back

Cents score twice in bottom of sixth to stay in first place

Posted: May 3, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 3, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Saugus’ Nick Shrode, left, and Chris Devery celebrate Devery’s solo home run in the fourth inning against Valencia on Wednesday at Saugus High.

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Saugus baseball knew what was ahead in the final two weeks of Foothill League play.

The league-leading Centurions have to get past Valencia and West Ranch — two of the top teams in the league standings — in back-to-back weeks for a chance to win league.

On Wednesday, Saugus got over the first hurdle, coming from behind to knock off Valencia 3-2 at Saugus High School to clinch the season series against the Vikings.

“We know it’s going to be tough,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “We have to beat Valencia and we have to beat West Ranch. It sounds cliche, but we’re just trying to get wins. I don’t care who it’s against or how we get them.”

In Wednesday’s case, it was a late rally that began in the sixth with Saugus down 2-1.

Andru Cardenas saved the day for the Centurions (15-8-1 overall, 9-3 Foothill League) when he smacked a two-out, two-RBI single to left field in the sixth inning, scoring Chris Devery and Nick Shrode.

Devery also opened up the game’s scoring with a solo home run to left field in the fourth inning.

After the game, Cardenas was quick to direct the credit toward his teammate, starting pitcher Justin Donatella.

“He’s amazing,” Cardenas said of the right-hander. “He just goes out there and it’s like a guaranteed chance to win.”

Cardenas’ hit helped preserve another strong outing by Donatella, who went the distance and surrendered two earned runs off five hits while striking out five.

Donatella and Valencia starter J.D. Busfield were battling back and forth most of the game, neither giving opposing hitters much to work with.

Busfield ended up going 5 1/3 innings while being credited with three runs off five hits, though Cardenas’ run-scoring single came off reliever Chris Gimenez.

“I thought our kids played very well. We pitched very well,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “We just couldn’t come up with a big play. They did.”

The Vikings (16-8, 7-5) remain in fourth place in the Foothill, now two games behind co-leaders Saugus and West Ranch.

Valencia did come up with one big hit in the fifth inning when Trey Williams slapped a triple into the right-field corner that scored Cody Mcafee and Johnny Ives.

In the bottom half of the inning, Mcafee appeared to make a game-saving play when he made a running catch up against the wall in left field to save what would have been a grand slam by Donatella.

The catch marked the final out of the inning.

But the Centurions came right back in the sixth, getting runners aboard with a Devery walk and a Shrode single, which marked the end of Busfield’s day.

Two batters later, Cardenas cashed in.

“We kept putting pressure on them,” the senior said. “We knew something was going to happen eventually.”

Saugus will have a chance to sweep the series against Valencia on Friday at Valencia High.

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