Down by one run in the fifth inning, Hart baseball’s Cody Jefferis approached the plate. The only thought he had that couldn’t be drowned out by two rowdy dugouts was that of a suicide squeeze.
On the third pitch, Jefferis executed, scoring Trever Coogan from third base and turning the rudder to steer Hart toward a 4-2 win against West Ranch at home Wednesday.
It was the first league loss for the Wildcats (14-6 overall, 7-1 in Foothill League).
“He executed a two-strike suicide and got the engine started a little bit,” said Hart coach Jim Ozella. “It was quality execution by him.”
Later in the fifth, Josh Cerpa hit an RBI sacrifice fly, and the Indians (13-7, 4-4) added an insurance run on an error.
On the mound, Hart righty Cody Turner allowed one hit and struck out three in six innings. Brendan Henry closed out the final inning, allowing one hit.
“I struggled with some pitches in the early innings and when I went into that fourth inning a lot of things changed,” Turner said. “I picked up a couple different pitches and just clutched up when I needed to and threw a good pitch when I needed to.”
The Wildcats started the scoring in the second inning on Garrett Monheim’s RBI groundout.
Hart’s Braeden McClain hit an RBI single to knot up the score for the first time in the bottom of the second.
The Cats were crawling toward some momentum after scoring on a sacrifice fly in the third. The defense was solid too, highlighted by a double play to close out the third inning and a fly ball caught by a twisting, turning Monheim before falling facedown on the grass in the fifth.
“Our outfield play has been fantastic and kind of our defense all along has been real good for us,” said West Ranch coach Casey Burrill. “And we would like to keep that going.”
The two teams face off again Friday at 3:30 p.m. at West Ranch.
“If you’re not focused up on Friday, then you’re not a very good athlete,” Ozella said. “A player is going to be ready to play. And I think we’ll be ready to play on Friday.”