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Saugus beats Hart; advances to VIBL final

Cents will play in second final in two years

Posted: July 22, 2014 10:18 p.m.
Updated: July 22, 2014 10:18 p.m.

Saugus' Brendan Griffith slides into first base during their VIBL game versus Hart at Saugus High School on Tuesday. The Centurions beat Hart 8-3 in a rematch of last year's VIBL championship game.

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The last time the Saugus and Hart baseball teams met was when the Indians clinched their first Foothill League title since 2008 in the 2014 regular-season finale.

On Tuesday, Saugus got a small measure of revenge by beating Hart 8-3 in the Valley Invitational Baseball League semifinals at Saugus High.

After giving up one run in the top of the first, the Centurions scored five of their own in the bottom half.

Incoming senior Anthony Donatella started the rally with a single and was brought in by Brendan Griffith’s double into the left-center field gap. Junior-to-be Rudy Aguilar then opened things up with a two-run home run. Saugus scored twice more in the inning to give themselves a comfortable 5-1 lead.

In all, the Centurions strung together six straight hits and brought 10 batters to the plate in the first inning.

“I was really proud of how our guys came out today. (Paul) Richan is a solid pitcher,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “I thought we took some really good at-bats in that first inning. If you had told me there would be six runs after the first with Richan and (Eric) Little on the mound I would have said, ‘No way.’ But it’s been nice because in these last couple of games I’ve seen some guys grow up that we need to grow up.”

Little, who will be a senior in 2015, finished the 2014 season with a 7-1 record and a 2.61 ERA. He went three innings on Tuesday, giving up three runs and striking out three.

Hart’s Richan, who was 8-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 2014, only pitched the first inning, giving up five runs on seven hits and striking out one.

“That first inning was a bit of a struggle, but all the credit goes to Saugus,” said Hart pitching coach Kyle Boggio, who took over head coaching duties from Jim Ozella for the day as Ozella was out of town. “Our pitches were up and Saugus took advantage. We’ll take some time off now and get ready for the fall. Overall, I liked what I saw this summer.”

While it wasn’t a great day for the two starters, both teams’ bats quieted down after the third inning.

Hart scored two in the third off of a home run from incoming junior Nick Plaia.

Saugus matched that with two of its own in the bottom of the inning when Aguilar doubled in Tyler Grissom and Rex Kemple.

Aguilar finished the day 3-for-4 with a home run, four RBIs and was a triple short of the hitting for the cycle. Going into his third year on the varsity team, Aguilar knows that the work doesn’t ever really stop.

“Baseball is a beautiful sport, and it’s a joy to be out here during the summer,” he said. “But even after summer ball is over we still have to go to the gym and get ready because last year we left the playoffs too soon. We want to get further this year.”

Saugus will face El Camino Real at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Birmingham High in the VIBL championship. This is the second year in a row the Centurions have made it the championship game. Last year they lost to Hart 8-4.

“Our objective is to play as many games as we can during the summer,” Maggiora said. “As soon as we’re done it’s time for a vacation. We’ll get away for a little while and then come back ready to go.”

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