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The re-labeled Indians

Posted: March 24, 2008 12:21 a.m.
Updated: May 25, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Members of the Hart High baseball team jog off the field after a game Feb. 29. The Indians are 8-3 this season and 3-0 in the Foothill League after defeating Saugus High on Friday.

 
Hindsight is said to be 20/20. Looking back, maybe it was wrong to tout the Saugus High baseball team as the team to beat in 2008.

Maybe it was wrong to mention things like Foothill League titles and even a CIF-Southern Section Division II title.
But sometimes writers get jumpy.

After all, Sports Illustrated had the Dodgers and Angeles meeting in the 2007 World Series in its 2007 Baseball Preview.

The Dodgers, remember, finished in fourth place in their own division and the Angels were rolled by the eventual champion Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series.

But there was just cause for picking the Centurions, and the season is nowhere close to being over, so all those titles can still be won.

Saugus shortstop Zachary Vincej, just a junior, is the best hitter in the Foothill League.

Anybody would probably tell you that if they needed one hit in any situation, he'd be the area's guy.

Then there's a surrounding cast of solid hitters that mix in a balance of power, speed and contact hitting.

Guys like Troy Ajer and Cody Chew who are proven hitters and power threats like Tyler Brubaker and Stefan Cordes who have a ton of potential.

Then there's a pitching staff full of arms that have the potential to get it done on a daily basis.

Staff ace Shawn Smith and quality arms like Jonathan Boersma and Michael Hebert.

But a word that symbolizes this team is potential.

Potential is a word that is linked to future.

One team is making it happen right now and after closer inspection might have been the better pick for title considerations.

Hart battered Saugus Friday 12-1.

It was certainly a big surprise.

Saugus could have lost - surely - but that badly.

It's a reminder of a game three years back where Saugus and Hart met at Hart's Bud Murray Field.

After a run to the Division II semifinals in 2004, there was a lot of optimism surrounding the 2005 Hart team.

But Saugus went into Hart and steamrolled the Indians 10-0 in the Foothill League opener.

Current USC pitcher Tommy Milone hit two home runs in the game and pitched five scoreless innings.

The Centurions won the league title.

Friday's game had a similar feel.

The Indians have been highly-touted in the past, thanks in large part to quality arms and contact hitting.

But Hart showed something quite different this time around.

The Indians are powerful.

It's been a long time since a Hart team attacked the fences like this team has.

Hart hit three home runs Friday - Jenzen Torres, Spenser Souza and a pinch-hit solo shot Jon Chiusano.

Once again, a pinch-hit home run.

Hart had seven total home runs last year. They have eight already this season.

The Indians had six extra-base hits in the game.

But the greatest quality the Indians have, the quality that wins you championships, is pitching.

Hart has a staff ERA of 1.64.

Michael Montgomery, Cal-State Fullerton or professional-baseball bound, is much better than last year.

"Last year was motivation," Montgomery said Friday after his six-inning, one earned run, 12 strikeout performance.

The 6-foot-5 left-hander had a breakout sophomore season, then tailed off last year and ended up with a 3.46 ERA.

It's not so much that his fastball is so good, though it zooms into the low-90s, but his off-speed stuff is hard to touch.

In the third inning, with runners on second and third and no outs, he struck out the next three batters looking with off-speed stuff.

"I've faced him," said Torres. "He's the real deal. He's lights out. He's mentally tough, so confident."

And we still haven't gotten to Trevor Bauer, the junior who is a definite Division I prospect.

Bauer threw five innings of Hart's no-hitter win Tuesday against Golden Valley.

And Hart has more arms coming out of the bullpen that can shut hitting down.

With that abundance, there is now no question who the top dog in the Foothill League is, with apologies to Valencia (also a 3-0 team in league).

Saugus had trouble with that label.

We'll see how Hart does.

"We can't worry about that," Montgomery said.

They'll surely get everyone's best shot now, though.

Cary Osborne is The Signal's sports editor. He can be reached at cosborne@the-signal.com. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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