Valencia baseball survives Saugus despite numerous free bases


It’s not always pretty.

In an act of survival, Valencia edged out Saugus, 9-7, on Friday at Saugus to remain unbeaten in Foothill League play.

“That almost felt like surviving that game,” said Valencia coach Mike Killinger. “We just gave them chance after chance. We did a lot of good things early, got that big lead, and then we just kept giving them free bases.”

With his bullpen unable to throw strikes, Killinger turned to Zack Brown in the fifth inning with the bases loaded to get the Vikings (7-2 overall, 2-0 in Foothill) back in the dugout.

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Brown, who was called upon to get critical outs Wednesday against Hart, delivered again.

But not without a little help from Saugus (2-7, 1-1).

After Brown retired the first two hitters he faced, the Centurions ran into the final out of inning.

Thinking it was ball four, Kyle Dawson strolled to first, which triggered the Saugus base runners to advance. However, it was only ball three, and the threat ended when Nolan Kutcher was tagged out between third and home.

“Did that cost us the game? I don’t know. But who knows, maybe we’re still hitting right now if we’re a little more aware,” said Saugus coach John Maggiora.

The Vikings controlled a 6-0 lead midway through four innings and a 9-3 advantage heading into the bottom of the fifth. But their trouble throwing strikes kept the Centurions alive.

Dominant through three, Valencia starting pitcher Ben Fariss lost command in the fourth. He surrendered three runs but only two hits in the frame.

Command issues plagued the Vikings’ bullpen as well, as Trace Eldridge and Austin Oliver combined to allow the first seven Saugus batters to reach base in the fifth ­­– one by way of a hit. With the no outs and the bases loaded, Killinger summoned Brown to preserve the 9-7 lead.

“You just have to narrow down your focus,” Brown said in regards to pitching in high-leverage situations. “Think about one pitch at a time.”

Altogether, Valencia issued 12 walks and beaned four Saugus hitters– 10 of those coming in the fourth and fifth innings, leading to seven runs for the Centurions.

Cody Minnis and Fariss led the way offensively for the Vikings, as they each went 2-for-3. Fariss had three RBIs. Valencia’s Shane Huey added a three-run home run in the fifth that ended up being the difference in the game.

Chase Lindemann went 1-for-3 for Saugus.

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