As Valencia and Hart baseball fans gathered their belongings Wednesday, someone muttered something about it being only the first Foothill League game of the year and he’d already suffered a heart attack.
Moments before, the Vikings had scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh, beating Hart, 4-3, on Chris Mueller’s walk-off single in a game of missed opportunities and a wild finish.
“That’s not how you draw it up,” said Valencia coach Mike Killinger.
The game went neatly according to script for Hart (5-2 overall, 0-1 in Foothill) through six innings.
Cody Jefferis’ two-run single in the fifth handed a 3-1 lead to Hart’s best bullpen arms.
Prep baseball: Mueller’s walk off for Valencia. pic.twitter.com/RmKriKgDRO
— Mason Nesbitt (@mason_nesbitt) March 16, 2017
Lefty Jacob Cevene tossed three shutout innings. Righty Brendan Henry recorded the final two outs of the sixth and returned for the seventh as Valencia (6-2, 1-0) huddled in its dugout.
“We were talking about how somebody needs to step up and get it done,” Mueller said. “Someone needs to clutch up.”
That someone turned out to be multiple people.
A single, a hit batter and an error on a possible double-play ball loaded the bases.
Valencia’s Jake Biscailuz hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2. Lukas White singled home the tying run. And Mueller sent a liner past Henry’s glove and a lunging Jeffris at shortstop to score Tyler Erne.
The Vikings sprinted onto the field in celebration of their third win over the Indians in the teams’ last four meetings.
“You have an opportunity to finish the game in the seventh, you have to get an out,” said Hart coach Jim Ozella of his team. “We don’t get any outs on the double play ball. We had an opportunity in the fifth inning to get two more runs, and we get picked off second base twice. Those are all things we can handle, things we can control.”
Hart’s Grant Thuente finished 2-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base.
Jefferis went 2-for-3.
Mueller finished 2-for-2, one of three Vikings with multiple hits. Erne and Trace Eldridge were the others.
Eldridge one-hopped the wall in left-center to lead off the first inning.
Cody Minnis bunted him to third, and Ben Fariss brought him home with an RBI ground out.
Hart strung three singles together in the fourth, tying the score on Matt Elser’s RBI base hit.
The Indians tallied seven hits against Valencia starter Chase Farrell, who pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed three runs.
He struck out four and walked two.