The Hart-Saugus one-run phenomenon is impervious, it appears, even to a five-run lead.
The Indians built a head-for-the-exits advantage at Saugus High on Wednesday, but the Centurions rattled off four runs in the bottom of the sixth to set up what became the 20th one-run game between the schools in their last 34 meetings.
With runners on second and third, Hart right fielder Kendall Thomas made a running catch in foul territory to secure an 8-7 win and a third-place finish in the Foothill League for the Indians.
PHOTOS: Hart baseball vs. Saugus
“It’s always a tough battle, all the way to the end,” said Hart center fielder Cole Roederer. “What’s Hart baseball without a close call at the end?”
That’s certainly true of this year’s Indians (16-10 overall, 7-5 in Foothill), who have been on the wrong side of five walk-offs this season.
Hart reliever Jacob Cevene recorded the first two outs of the seventh inning but then issued consecutive walks, both runners moving up 90 feet on a passed ball.
Indians righty Ryan Carolan forced the game-ending fly out to Thomas.
“I was just trying to throw strikes, really,” Carolan said. “Just let the defense work. I have a good defense behind me.”
Both defenses struggled at times, though.
Saugus (8-19, 4-8) made a costly error in both the second and third innings, with Hart scoring three times in each frame.
The Centurions’ four-run sixth featured two Hart errors and a sun-aided single that might have been caught otherwise in center.
“It was not a very pretty game,” said Hart coach Jim Ozella. “When you’re in charge of the game like we were, you have to make plays. You have to want to be the guy to make the plays. I guess that’s something we’re still working on.”
Up until the sixth inning, the day was characterized by crash, bash and dash.
Hart’s Roederer banged a double off the center field fence and eventually came around to score in the first inning.
He launched a solo home run over the right field fence in the top of the fifth, then hustled for a diving catch in the bottom of the frame.
Hart’s Cody Jefferis finished 3-for-4 with a double. Trever Coogan had two hits. Nolan Kutcher had two hits for Saugus.
Valencia 10, Golden Valley 4
Chase Farrell earned the win on the mound for the Vikings (20-7, 10-2), pitching five innings and allowing one run. Ben Fariss went 4-for-5 at the plate, while Lukas White was 2-for-4.
Valencia had seven extra base hits total.
Eddie Rodriguez had two hits for the Grizzlies (8-14, 3-9).