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Hart baseball defeats Valencia in walk-off fashion

Posted: April 24, 2013 9:34 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2013 9:34 p.m.

Hart teammates swarm Austin Russ, far right, at home plate after he hit a walk-off, two-run home run in the eighth on Wednesday.



After dropping one-run games twice last week to Canyon, it was looking like deja vu for the Hart Indians again on Wednesday.

Despite a come-from-behind effort to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh against the Valencia Vikings, Hart’s Austin Russ found himself at the plate down one in the bottom of the eighth.

He promptly sent a 1-1 fastball over the right-center field fence for a walk-off, two-run home run to send the Indians racing to home plate to celebrate a 4-3 victory at Hart High School

“It’s nice to be on top for once,” Russ said. “Every game we’ve been close but weren’t able to close the door, so it feels good.”

The home run came as part of a two-out rally, with Dayton Provost reaching on a single up the middle and stealing second before Russ’ home run.

The Indians are no strangers to one-run games — Tuesday was their seventh straight league contest decided by a run.

Russ’ home run came off Valencia starting pitcher J.D. Busfield, who allowed a run in the first inning before shutting down the Indians until the seventh.

“Busfield pitched really well,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “(Hart) got a big two-out hit, stole second and hit a home run — what do you do about that?”

In that inning, with the Vikings up 2-1 on a two-run, second-inning home run by A.J. Balta, sophomore Colby Kaneshiro hit a curve ball into right field to score Nick Valaika and tie the score.

Kaneshiro was 1-for-3 on the day, grounding out in his first two at-bats on curve balls before figuring the pitch out to tie the score.

“I got a curve in the zone and put it the other way,” Kaneshiro said. “A little bit of deja vu (when Valencia took the lead in the eighth.) It felt good to finally get a win. We’ve been on the other side of one-run games — it felt good to be on the winning side.”

As good as Busfield was until the end (7 2/3 innings pitched with eight strikeouts and four runs allowed), the Vikings’ offense couldn’t figure out Indians’ starter Chad Haslock.

Haslock went 7 2/3, striking out four and allowing three runs.

“We’re just not hitting right now,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “We’ve been getting good pitching all year. We’ve just got to start getting some runs.”

The loss drops Valencia two games back of first place behind Canyon and West Ranch, while Hart sits one game back of Valencia and Saugus for third place.

“(This win) is really big. It’s big for our confidence,” Kaneshiro said.

The two teams will meet again on Friday at Valencia High School.



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