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The champions: West Ranch baseball wins back to back titles

Posted: May 9, 2013 10:32 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2013 10:32 p.m.

West Ranch teammates surround J.D. Krauskopf (3) after he hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning against Saugus on Thursday at Saugus High School.

 

As soon as the ball reached the glove of West Ranch Wildcats first baseman Jordan Benty for the second out of a game-ending double play, the Wildcats came storming out of the dugout, dog piling in front of the mound in celebration.

Wildcats starting pitcher Cody Bennett had just pitched the Wildcats to a 5-2 victory over the Saugus Centurions, aided heavily by two big swings of the bat by third baseman J.D. Krauskopf, to clinch a share of their second straight Foothill League title.

By virtue of their 2-1 series advantage over the Canyon Cowboys, who defeated Valencia on Thursday to stay tied with West Ranch, the Wildcats will enter the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs as the No. 1 seed out of the Foothill League.

“I was just waiting for that ball to get thrown to first,” Bennett said. “I was so excited. (2012 All-SCV Player of the Year J.C. Cloney) got to celebrate that last year, and I got to do it this year. It was the greatest feeling.”

Bennett earned the complete-game win, allowing two earned runs on seven hits, while striking out four.

The two runs came on a weird play in the bottom of the third, after West Ranch (16-9 overall, 10-5 Foothill League) had taken a 2-0 lead on back-to-back home runs by Tyler Woldanski and Krauskopf in the top half of the inning.

Saugus’ Troy Williams hit a slow roller up the first base line that Bennett fielded before lunging toward the bag.

Instead, the ball came flying out of his glove, kicked off his foot and ricocheted down the right field foul line. The play plated Nick Warren and Joey Mendez and tied the score at 2-2.

West Ranch responded immediately, though, taking the lead for good on a sacrifice fly by Jagger Rusconi to score Jake Bird.

“I was shocked on that play,” Bennett said. “That was the weirdest play that’s happened to me. Then we come back and score one in the next inning and we were on a roll after that.”

Bennett shut Saugus (12-14-1, 7-8) out the rest of the way, effectively ending the Centurions’ season.

Saugus finishes the year in fourth place in the Foothill League, but their sub-.500 overall record likely means they will miss out on the postseason.

“There will be 14 guys coming back,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “They got a big piece of the pie, lot’s of experience. We’ll be back. I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for us.”

Bennett received a big boost off the bat of Krauskopf, who hit his second home run of the game in the seventh, a two-run shot to give the Wildcats a 5-2 lead.

“I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball,” Krauskopf said. “I wasn’t trying to do too much. I felt the 3-2 lead was enough, but the 5-2 lead did help. It gave (Bennett) room to work with.”

Saugus tried to rally in the seventh, putting two runners on with one out as Troy Williams stepped to the plate as the tying run.

But Bennett induced a ground ball to Rusconi at shortstop, who started the 6-4-3 double play and sent the Wildcats home co-league champions.

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