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Valencia baseball leans on its pitching for win

Posted: March 26, 2014 10:33 p.m.
Updated: March 26, 2014 10:33 p.m.
Valencia’s Hunter Holland, left, tags out Saugus’ Roy Verdejo on Wednesday at Valencia High. Valencia’s Hunter Holland, left, tags out Saugus’ Roy Verdejo on Wednesday at Valencia High.
Valencia’s Hunter Holland, left, tags out Saugus’ Roy Verdejo on Wednesday at Valencia High.

Valencia Vikings baseball is going to have to pitch to be a Foothill League title contender in 2014 and the Saugus Centurions are going to have to hit to do the same.

On Wednesday, Valencia did the hitting part in a 7-1 victory over Saugus on Wednesday at Valencia High.

The Vikings used three pitchers to keep Saugus’ bats at bay and received a 3-for-4, three-RBI day at the plate from first baseman Devin Davis to get the win.

Coming into Foothill League play and from what has transpired early, Valencia (5-5 overall, 1-2 Foothill League) will hit and Saugus (8-3, 2-1) will pitch.

The questions for the two teams is will they do the other things?

Valencia interim head coach Mike Killinger gave an emphatic “absolutely” as to if the Vikings will shorten games with lots of arms in league play.

Junior Kevin Chandler went four innings, allowing one run on a third inning single off the bat of Rudy Aguilar, Jake Eaton went an inning, then he passed the baton to Andrew Sohikian who lifted the Vikings in the final two innings.

Valencia went from a pitcher who changes speeds and paints the corners to an overpowering right-hander to a guy who throws quality pitches to allow the batter to get himself out.

It worked.

“We haven’t been executing lately. We’re finally starting to figure it out,” said Davis.

The Vikings were on Saugus starter Eric Little for much of the game.

Davis’ first-inning single gave Valencia a 1-0 lead.

In the third, he smacked a Little fastball over the wall in left-center field for a two-run home run.

The other big hitter for Valencia was Anthony Lepre, who knocked in a run in the fifth with a single and plated two more in the sixth with a two-out, two-RBI single.

Saugus, on the other hand, didn’t deliver on its chances.

The Centurions stranded two baserunners in the first, second, third, fourth and sixth innings.

In the fourth inning, Saugus cleanup hitter Roy Verdejo stranded the bases loaded with a pop out to the mound.

Saugus has scored just four runs in three Foothill games.

“Not a slump,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “We left runners on and didn’t capitalize early.”

Maggiora was optimistic.

“It’s a 15-round fight,” he said. “You’ll see this, the last week there will be four teams with a mathematical chance to win (the Foothill title).”

Valencia played its fourth game without head coach Jared Snyder, who is on a leave of absence from teaching and coaching.

“I would say last weekend was pretty tough because of the turmoil,” Killinger said. “But kids are resilient and they relaxed a little and showed what kind of team this is.”



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