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Prep baseball: Bats carry Vikes late

Valencia staves off Chaminade rally in tourney

Posted: February 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valencia baseball has enjoyed quite a run over the last three years.

The Vikings enter the season coming off three straight Foothill League titles, and they’re in search of a fourth.
So far this season, the Vikings have started off on the right track.

Valencia, which is ranked No. 8 in the preseason CIF-Southern Section Division I poll, held off a rally by Chaminade High and opened things up late to defeat the Eagles 8-4 at Valencia High on Tuesday afternoon.

The win, which came in the championship bracket of the Southern California Showdown, moves Valencia into the semifinals.

The Vikings had worked out of jams in the fourth and fifth innings, but Chaminade stormed back into the game in the top of the sixth.

Down 3-0, the Eagles’ Scott Stevens hit a single to score Cole Rutherford and Matt Willmore and pull his team within a run entering the final inning.

“Pitching and defense have done really well for us,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “That’s what’s kept us in games.”

But in the bottom of the sixth on Tuesday, the offense won the game.

After a single and two hit batters, Valencia’s A.J. Balta sent a 3-0 pitch into the outfield for a two-RBI single.

Balta finished the day 4-for-4 with four runs, three RBIs and a solo home run.

“We knew the game was coming down to the wire,” Balta said. “So we had to start hitting.”

Keston Hiura followed up Balta’s hit with an RBI double, and Trey Williams drove in two more with a single.

Williams finished the day 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a walk.

He also had a stellar day in the field, highlighted by a play in the sixth inning. After the Eagles had pulled within one run, Williams slid to his right to stop a ground ball and his throw beat the runner to third to end the threat.

Connor Chase started on the mound for Valencia and picked up the win after going five innings and giving up six hits, no runs and striking out four batters.

For the Eagles, Kevin Victoria opened the game and went three innings, allowing five hits, two runs, one walk and two strikeouts.

Valencia jumped on Victoria early, as the first three batters of the game reached on singles.

Williams came up with two runners on and no outs in the first inning and hit an RBI single to give Valencia an early lead.

The Vikings added to the lead in the third inning when Balta scored on a wild pitch by Victoria.

Balta extended the lead to 3-0 in the fifth inning when he hit a home run to right field. It was the first extra-base hit of the game for either team.

Chaminade scored two runs in the final inning when Willmore doubled in two runs, but it was too little, too late for the Eagles.

Valencia will play Alemany on Thursday.


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