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Foothill League baseball: The hunt for second

Valencia joins Hart and Saugus at 9-5 with one to play

Posted: May 9, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 9, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valencia relief pitcher Nick Talmo kept firing away, keeping Canyon at bay while he waited for his offense to get going.
It finally did in the fourth inning, kickstarted by a canny — and courageous — decision at the plate.

Cody McAfee laid down a bases-loaded drag bunt to score the first of five runs in the frame, helping Talmo and the Vikings vault by Canyon 6-4 on Tuesday at Valencia High School.

The Vikings (18-8 overall, 9-5 Foothill League) still haven’t clinched an automatic playoff berth, as Hart and Saugus are both also 9-5 in league after Tuesday. Valencia owns the tiebreaker with Hart but lost the season series against Saugus.

That will all get sorted out on Thursday. The Vikings gave themselves a chance on Tuesday.

“McAfee’s bunt was outstanding,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “Without that, we don’t win the game.”

The same could be said of Talmo.

The senior came on after J.D. Busfield struggled from the start, giving up four runs in the first inning and then a leadoff single to Canyon’s Cole Mears in the second. Busfield exited after balking Mears to second with no outs.

Talmo promptly retired the next three batters, and he used breaking balls and mixed up his speeds effectively to pitch into the seventh inning, giving up just three hits and one walk.

“It worked out in the long run,” Talmo said of his performance. “For a while, it didn’t look like it would because we had no runs.”

Canyon starter Max Weinstein was solid through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners. But he got into trouble in the fourth when Brian Mundell led off with a long single to left field, A.J. Balta was hit by a pitch and Kyle Sanchez walked to load the bases.

After a flyout, McAfee perfectly placed his bunt down the third-base line and was safe at first as Mundell thundered across home plate.

Johnny Ives followed with a sacrifice fly to score Balta, and two more runs came in on a double by Michael Fischbach.

“We made one bad pitch to their No. 9 guy,” said Canyon head coach Adam Schulhofer, “and he did what he had to do with it.”

Weinstein appeared to get out of the inning when Keston Hiura drilled a ground ball to second, but an error on the play allowed Fischbach to score the go-ahead run.

Weinstein gave up another unearned run in the fifth inning, but he gave the Cowboys a chance to win.

“If we could have made some plays, that’s the difference,” Schulhofer said. “The idea was to limit what they could do. Good teams wait you out, and that’s what they did.”

Canyon (8-18, 4-10) had one last chance to tie or take the lead in the seventh, when Mears and Chris Serrano reached second and third, respectively. But Chris Gimenez retired the final two batters with a strikeout and a pop fly.

Jacob Emery’s two-run double keyed Canyon’s first inning, and Serrano and Adam Evans also had RBI hits.

Serrano and Mears each had two hits and a run for the Cowboys. Balta didn’t have a hit but scored twice and drew a walk, while Hiura had two hits.

Weinstein bottled up Valencia leadoff hitter Trey Williams, who finished 0-for-3 with a walk.

But Valencia received its biggest boost on the mound.

“The big thing was Nick Talmo, him going five innings lights out,” Snyder said.



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