Valencia High baseball’s Nick Brice comes to practice every day and works hard.
But playing time isn’t a given, so the senior had to make the most of his appearance in the Vikings’ 3-2 road win against Saugus High on Friday.
With the Centurions threatening the Vikings’ slim lead in the sixth inning, Brice, an outfielder, had his moment.
One run had already scored on Brandyn Cruz’s single, cutting Valencia’s lead to one, but Brice’s throw home on the play was in time to nab Saugus’ JC Choy.
“If we didn’t have that, it’d be a different game,” said Valencia’s Lukas White. “He hasn’t been given a lot of opportunities, but when he does he comes out and performs.”
Trace Eldridge pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Vikings (17-6 overall, 7-2 in Foothill League), who scored all three of their runs in the third inning.
Eldridge hit a single, then Saugus pitcher Cruz walked two to set the stage for Tyler Erne to hit a two-run double and White to hit an RBI single.
“We were trying to just go the other way with it,” White said. “He was pitching more outside and if we tried to pull it, we’d just roll over on it. Yesterday, we practiced going ‘oppo’ with it and it worked pretty well.”
White also pitched six innings, allowing four hits and recording two strikeouts.
“He had a clutch hit, he scored a run, and then with pitching, he’s already had a no-hitter this season (against Irvine), and he’s just been lights out for us,” Erne said of White.
Saugus (8-16, 4-5) turned up the heat in the sixth inning, but Valencia kept cool amidst the late effort.
“We learned that if we make less mistakes we’ll win,” said Cents coach John Maggiora of the series against the Vikings. “And in both games if we make less mistakes, we’ll win both. And we made more mistakes than them.”
With the win, the Vikes beat the Centurions by two runs or less in all three matchups this season.
“Sweeping Saugus definitely feels good and gets us back to where we need to be,” Erne said.