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West Ranch baseball blows things open with 7-run sixth to beat Canyon

Posted: April 12, 2013 8:14 p.m.
Updated: April 12, 2013 8:14 p.m.

West Ranch's Jagger Rusconi (5) rounds third base after hitting a home run in the fourth inning agaisnt Canyon at West Ranch.

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Canyon Cowboys baseball gave the West Ranch Wildcats an inch on Friday at West Ranch High and the Wildcats took seven runs.

And they also took the win.

Now, thanks to help from Hart and Golden Valley, the hottest team in the Foothill League is all alone in first place.

West Ranch won 10-3 thanks to a seven-run sixth inning that broke a 3-3 tie.

After an 0-2 start in the Foothill, West Ranch (11-6 overall) is now 5-2 with a one-game lead on Saugus and Valencia.

A major difference between West Ranch and Canyon (12-7, 4-3) is the big-game experience, and it showed Friday.

“Definitely our playoff run last year led to this year,” said West Ranch sophomore Jagger Rusconi, who hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and knocked in the final run of the game on a double in the sixth. He was 4-for-5 on the day. “We might not have as much talent as last year, but we’re working as a team. Pressure? This team’s great in those moments now.”

West Ranch won its first Foothill League title last season and made it to the CIF-Southern Section Division I semifinals.

The Wildcats were a poised team Friday.

The opposite could be said about Canyon, which hasn’t played in the postseason since 2007, but has gotten off to its best start since 2005.

Canyon made five errors in the game, had a baserunning gaffe and didn’t do much to support the work of ace Max Weinstein on the mound.

“I told our guys (after the game) that if you’re going to compete as an athlete, you expect to perform under pressure,” said Canyon head coach Adam Schulhofer.

Yet West Ranch was hitting Weinstein throughout.

But it was Weinstein hitting West Ranch that gave the Wildcats the inch they needed.

After three consecutive singles in the Wildcats’ sixth, Weinstein had Tyler Woldanski down in the count before he brushed him on the forearm, breaking the 3-3 tie and pushing in the first of the seven runs.

Run-scoring singles by Jordan Benty, Tony Slauson and Kyle McGraw followed before an error led to two more runs.

West Ranch sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning.

In the top of the seventh, steady Cody Bennett allowed a leadoff single, but shut the door on the Cowboys.

It was the West Ranch ace’s second game of the week, but he didn’t start this one.

After Jake Bird started and gave up runs in the second inning on a Jason Rowe groundout and a Christopher Jenkins single that tied the score at 2-2, Bennett entered in the third and was in effect a five-inning closer.

“If there was going to be an important situation, Cody was going to have the ball in his hands,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill.

Bennett went five innings, allowed three hits, one earned run on a Weinstein double in the fifth, and struck out five while walking none.

He was a big reason for both West Ranch wins against Canyon this week.

With Canyon going the other way, it’s challenge time for the Cowboys, who built their confidence on a 4-1 Foothill start.

“Three months ago we were figuring out who we’d be. Three weeks ago we found out we could do something. That’s where pressure comes in. That’s what we’re trying to figure out now,” Schulhofer said.

 

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