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Foothill League baseball: Not going without a fight

Valencia wins to stay in thick of the playoff race

Posted: May 5, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 5, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valenica’s Brian Mundell, right, celebtrates with teammates Trey Williams (24) and A.J. Balta (14) on Friday at Valencia High.

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It’s no longer about winning league for Valencia baseball.

At this point, it’s survival.

And with that in mind, the Vikings responded emphatically on Friday at Valencia High School with a 9-1 win over Saugus, which came into the day tied for first place in the Foothill League.

Valencia (17-8 overall, 8-5 Foothill League) is now tied with Hart at third place, two games back from leader West Ranch.
The Vikings have been mathematically eliminated from winning a fourth straight league title.

“We’re playing for a playoff spot and it’s not going to be a first-place playoff spot,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “Today was our day to get to the eight-win mark and we just need to win out.”

Left-handed starting pitcher Connor Chase turned in a stout complete-game performance to help Valencia salvage a win in the three-game season series against the Centurions.

Chase got off to a rocky start, walking two of the first three batters he faced and giving up an RBI single to Saugus’ Chris Devery two batters later in the first inning.

Not only was it the only run of the game for the Centurions (15-9-1, 9-4), it was just about the last time they threatened.

Chase went on to retire 11 of the next 12 batters and he ended up allowing a total of five hits and three bases on balls to go along with six strikeouts.

“Connor is the hardest working pitcher that I’ve had in a long time,” Snyder said. “As a coach, I just envy the way he goes to work every day.”

Saugus’ early 1-0 lead didn’t last long, as Valencia catcher Brian Mundell jumped on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first, launching a two-run home run far beyond the left-field fence.

Trey Williams scored on the play to give the Vikings a 2-1 advantage.

“Brian hit a moon shot,” Chase said. “It was nice to get the lead back after that first inning. We just kind of kept rolling after that.”

Mundell finished the day 3-for-4, but Valencia also saw production from the bottom of the order.

No. 9 hitter Michael Fischbach plated a pair of runs on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the fourth and another on a bases-loaded walk in the fifth.

Patience paid off for Valencia, which scored five runs in the fifth inning, which included three hits, two walks, three hit batsmen and a balk.

“It was this and that,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “We were pretty clean defensively, but at the same time we could have made some better plays.”

All five runs were credited to Saugus reliever Kyle Mark, who gave way to Andrew Rosales with one out in the frame.

Chad Bennett started the game on the mound for the Centurions. He gave up three earned runs off three hits in 3 2/3 innings.

When the bleeding finally stopped, Valencia was comfortably ahead 8-1.

Kyle Sanchez came into the game in the fourth inning for the Vikings and put together a 2-for-3 day that included a two-RBI single in the fifth.

A.J. Balta hit a solo homer in the sixth — Valencia’s ninth and final hit of the day — to cap the scoring.

League second-place Saugus finishes off the regular season against first-place West Ranch with two games next week. Valencia faces Canyon twice to complete its league schedule.

661-287-5535

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