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CIF baseball: West Ranch rolling into the quarters

Wildcats are deepest program has ever been in postseason

Posted: May 23, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 23, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

In a short period of time, West Ranch has become one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s top baseball programs.

They validated that on Tuesday.

The Wildcats defeated Capistrano Valley on the road in Mission Viejo 8-5 in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs, making their first quarterfinal in school history.

“We saw it the last two years. We’ve had good teams with solid pitching. High school baseball can be fickle. It can be strange from the fact that it’s one-and-done in the playoffs. We’re real pleased with how far we’ve gone,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “Now we face the No. 1 team in the state.”

West Ranch faces Division I No. 1 seed Orange Lutheran on Friday at West Ranch High.

But on Tuesday and for the second consecutive game, the Wildcats leaned on their hitting.

A three-run second inning and four-run sixth provided West Ranch (19-8-1) enough to overcome the Cougars (20-12-1).

In the second, the Wildcats mounted a two-out rally started by Justin Hovis’ single.

Tony Slauson knocked him in with a double. Two batters later, J.D. Krauskopf drove home a pair with a double.

Krauskopf was 3-for-3 in the game. In the first-round 6-3 win over Riverside Poly last Friday, Krauskopf provided the major jolt with a three-run home run.

In the sixth, Gabe Peralta hit a two-RBI double and J.C. Cloney hit a two-run home run that cleared the bleachers of the adjacent football field.

The Wildcats roughed up Capistrano Valley ace Andrew Richards for 12 hits and eight earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

“We had a pretty good scouting report on how he got people out,” Burrill said of Richards, who came into the game at 7-1 with a 1.06 ERA. “We knew he was a strike thrower. We knew he’d be in the strike zone. We knew he’d work away. The plan in practice was work away with our hitters. It paid off today.”

But the Cougars weren’t going to go away easily.

After the four-run inning gave the Wildcats an 8-2 lead, Capistrano Valley attacked in the bottom of the sixth.

Richards led off with a home run against West Ranch starter Cody Bennett.

Bennett retired the next two batters before allowing a walk and a single.

Cougar Casey Bennett’s single scored one run and Cody Bennett gave way to Cloney.

Cloney allowed an RBI single to pinch-hitter Peter Zuvich.

With two on and two out, Cloney induced a groundout by Steve Trojan to end the inning.

Michael Silva entered in the bottom of the seventh and retired the final three Capistrano Valley batters in order to earn the save.

Cloney, the likely Foothill League Most Valuable Player, will get the call on Friday giving West Ranch every bit of confidence that it can hang with the state’s top dog.

“We’re going to put a guy on the mound who we feel is as good as anyone anywhere,” Burrill said. “We feel real confident with him on the mound. We have a certain spring in our step when he’s pitching.”

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