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Foothill League baseball: Vikings get back on the winning side

Valencia ends three-game league losing streak

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

The bats were expected to carry this year’s Valencia baseball team.

If the Vikings manage to turn things around and win another Foothill League title, they can point to some huge defensive plays that made it possible.

Valencia recorded three critical outs thanks to outstanding plays over the final two innings, which helped Trey Williams’ tiebreaking solo home run stand up in a 2-1 victory over Canyon on Wednesday at Canyon High School.

Coming into the game, Valencia (6-4 overall, 2-3 Foothill League) had dropped three straight contests, which wasn’t expected of a team fielding such a talented lineup.

“To win a close game, to be able to finish the game, is most important for us,” said head coach Jared Snyder.

The Vikings preserved the win with clutch defense late, starting in the sixth inning. Canyon’s Jacob King was bolting home after an error on a throw to first, but Vikings first baseman Lukas Foster recovered the ball and fired it to catcher Brian Mundell, who blocked the plate for the out.

One batter later, Canyon’s Jake Ryan cracked a line drive to right field, which Valencia’s Michael Fischbach dove forward to catch for the third out.

In the seventh inning, Canyon’s Max Weinstein got on base with a single with one out. But after Valencia pitcher Connor Chase struck out Cole Mears, Mundell whipped a throw to Foster at first to catch pinch runner J.D. Diehl off the bag for the final out.

“(Our defense) came up huge,” Foster said. “It’s nothing we don’t expect. We work just as hard on defense as offense.”

Canyon starter Justin Stark hit Williams with the first pitch of the game, and Williams eventually scored as teammate A.J. Balta was caught in a rundown between first and second.

The Cowboys (3-9, 1-4) tied the game in the third when Mears singled, took second on an error, reached third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by King.

Williams drilled his home run over the fence in left field in the fifth inning, but Stark did a good job of limiting Valencia’s offense. The sophomore right-hander yielded just four hits with three strikeouts in a complete-game performance.

“I loved the way he pitched,” said Canyon head coach Adam Schulhofer. “His command is going to get better. His confidence is going to get better. He gave us a chance to win.”

Canyon gave itself a chance in the seventh inning with a nice defensive play of its own. Shortstop Kevin Morrice dove to snag a line drive by Mundell, and he threw to third to double up Williams.

The Cowboys managed just six hits off Chase, with King getting two.

“We needed a kid to step up on the mound and have that kind of performance,” Snyder said, “and he flat-out stepped up.”



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