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Hart baseball tames red-hot Valencia

Posted: April 25, 2014 10:43 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2014 10:43 p.m.
Hart’s Paul Richan throws a pitch to Valencia during Friday’s game against Valencia High School. Hart’s Paul Richan throws a pitch to Valencia during Friday’s game against Valencia High School.
Hart’s Paul Richan throws a pitch to Valencia during Friday’s game against Valencia High School.

Hart High junior pitcher Paul Richan said he was thinking about Friday’s game against surging Valencia for two days.

It was rattling around his head so much on Thursday night that he wrote a list in black pen on the inside of the bill of his cap.

The list said: 1. Strikes 2. Ahead of count 3. Hit your spots. Location.

At the bottom of the bill it said “Bulldog.”

He did all of the above in Hart’s 3-2 victory over the Vikings on Friday at Hart High. Jack Ralston took care of the offensive side with a bases loaded walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

“Outstanding,” said Hart head coach Jim Ozella of his right-hander’s performance. “He was a horse for seven innings against a team that can swing it.”

They swung it — to the tune of 10 hits.

But that’s where the bulldog part comes in.

He stranded three runners in the second and two in the fourth and fifth innings.

Valencia (12-8 overall, 6-3 Foothill League) got on the board first after a triple by Hunter Holland to the deepest part of the stadium in the fourth inning.

He was driven home by a single from Scott Ogrin.

But Richan helped himself in the bottom of the fourth with a sacrifice fly that scored Nick Valaika — who reached base when he was hit by Valencia pitcher Dylan Thomas.

Valaika was hit by a pitch an incredible four times in the game.

Another rarity in the game included Thomas retiring Hart in the first inning on three pitches, while still allowing a baserunner.

The Indians (16-3-1, 7-2) took a 2-1 lead on a Thomas wild pitch in the fifth, but Valencia tied the score in the top of the sixth on a botched squeeze play.

Battered by injuries, Hart has had to go with sophomore and JV callup Robert Reeves at catcher.

Reeves chased Ogrin back to third base after the missed squeeze by pinch hitter Cole Kleszcz, but he threw the ball into left field, allowing Ogrin to tie the score.

Richan, agitated after the play, then struck out Kleszcz and induced a flyout to end the inning.

After an infield single to lead off the seventh, Richan got the next three outs.

“I knew Valencia was a good hitting team,” Richan said. “I just needed to hit my spots.”

Hart led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk from Pearson Good.

He was sacrificed to second base, then Dayton Provost was walked by side-arming reliever Andrew Hodges.

Valaika was hit by a pitch and Ralston delivered with a single that skipped into right field.

“You don’t ever want to walk the leadoff hitter,” said Valencia head coach Mike Killinger.

Valencia’s team was clearly annoyed by the loss after the game.

Hart won the season series and now owns a one-game lead in the Foothill League standings over Valencia.

The Indians and Saugus are tied for first place with six games to play.


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