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Foothill baseball: ’Cats quell threats

West Ranch pitching staff stuffs Saugus

Posted: May 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Damage control was the name of the game for West Ranch baseball.

It's a formula the Wildcats, who have already wrapped up third place in the Foothill League, hope to carry into the playoffs next week.

On Wednesday, the Wildcats' pitching staff held off multiple Saugus threats in a 5-3 win on Wednesday at West Ranch High School.

Saugus brought the go-ahead run to the plate twice in the game after falling behind 4-0, but squandered the opportunities in the fifth and seventh innings.

"We want to go into the playoffs on a positive note," said West Ranch senior Matt Blake, who went 3-for-4 with a run. "You don't want to lose that last game."

At first, it didn't look like that would be an issue for the Wildcats (14-10-1, 8-6), who scored four runs in the first two innings.

Josh Heinz opened up the scoring with an RBI base hit up the middle to score Justin Hovis in the first.

West Ranch followed with three more runs in the second off Saugus freshman starter Roy Verdejo, who had only started one other league game this season.

He kept the Centurions (4-10, 9-16) in the game, dealing quickly and getting ahead in counts.

The second inning was an exception. With two runners on base, West Ranch left fielder Michael Alvarez laid down what started as a sacrifice bunt, but ended up with two runs scoring and Alvarez standing on third base after a throwing error.

Dakota Hernandez later brought in Alvarez on a sacrifice fly.

"I think that was the difference today," said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. "They put the ball in play and we didn't."

Verdejo went five innings and allowed five runs, four earned off eight hits.

Saugus had its chances, mainly in the fifth inning with Wildcats starter J.C. Cloney on the mound.

Trailing 4-1, the Centurions loaded the bases off a single and two walks. Sophomore Dylan Freyre then made it a 4-2 game with and RBI single, spelling an end to Cloney's day.

With one out, new West Ranch pitcher Aaron Watkins induced Justin Donatella to ground into a inning-ending double play on a 2-0 pitch.

"My pitching coach was the genius there," said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill of the pitching change. "I was just a bystander sitting back and watching it all play out."

The play preserved the win for Cloney, who struck out eight in 4 1/3, allowing two earned runs off six hits.

His only other run allowed was a solo home run by Freyre in the fourth.

The Centurions had another chance in the seventh when Donatella came to bat with two runners on and trailing 5-3. Watkins struck him out looking to end the game.

"We left some runs out there for sure," Maggiora said.
The teams will face off in the regular season finale on Friday at Saugus.




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