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Foothill League baseball: Cents score two victories

Saugus beats West Ranch, then clinches No. 2 spot

Posted: May 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Saugus starting pitcher Chad Bennett delivers against West Ranch on Thursday at West Ranch High School. The Centurions won 2-1.

Saugus baseball won twice on Thursday.

First, the Centurions came from behind to defeat West Ranch 2-1 at West Ranch High in each team’s Foothill League finale.

Then the entire team waited to get the Hart-Golden Valley result from across town.

When word came through that Golden Valley defeated Hart 3-2, the Centurions let out a collective celebratory shout.

Saugus (15-11-1 overall, 10-5 Foothill League) now finishes the league season in second place, owning a head-to-head tiebreaker over Valencia, and now will not have to play a wild-card game next week. The Centurions also have a better shot of hosting a first-round playoff game.

“Pride,” said Saugus starting pitcher Chad Bennett on what the Centurions were playing for on Thursday.

They needed a victory to stay in the hunt for second place, coming into the game in a three-way tie with Hart and Valencia.

Bennett pitched a gutsy six-plus innings, giving way to staff ace Justin Donatella in the seventh inning after surrendering a leadoff single to Tyler Woldanski.

Donatella, who went four innings in a loss to West Ranch (17-8-1, 11-4) on Tuesday, retired the first two batters he faced Thursday, but had Woldanski on third base with Matt Guerrero at the plate.

Guerrero worked the count, but on the seventh pitch, Donatella struck him out looking to end the game.

“I felt pretty calm. I felt in control,” Donatella said of the situation.

One inning earlier, Donatella was in another key spot in the game.

After West Ranch starter Cody Bennett limited Saugus, even taking a no-hitter into the fifth, he gave way to relief pitcher Michael Silva.

Silva surrendered a one-out single to Spencer Daniels, then gave Daniels a pass to third base with an error on a pick-off attempt.

After walking the next batter, Silva went 2-2 to Donatella.

The hard-throwing right-hander then dealt a slider to Donatella, who poked it out into center field for a single to score Daniels and give the Cents a 2-1 lead.

Donatella was the decider, but Chad Bennett kept his team in the game.

He struggled early, giving up an RBI single in the first inning to J.C. Cloney for a 1-0 West Ranch lead.

Bennett said he started to gather himself in the third inning.

Saugus finally broke through on Cody Bennett with an infield single from Chris Devery in the top of the fifth.

Three batters later, Nick Warren drove him home with an RBI double to left-center field that tied the score at 1-1.

It was a more important game for the Centurions, yet West Ranch still wanted it.

“We were playing for a pretty good seed in the playoffs,” said Wildcats head coach Casey Burrill. “But we didn’t have good approaches at the plate. Their Bennett kept us off balance, he threw strikes and didn’t get in trouble.”

Nonetheless, the Wildcats are the Foothill League champions and have earned a first-round playoff game next Friday.

“We think we have a chance to play a long time,” Burrill said.



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