By Diego Marquez
For The Signal Valencia baseball survived a late rally from Saugus to start Foothill League the way they wanted to at home Wednesday. The reigning league champions notched a 7-4 win over the Centurions in its league opener. Valencia (3-3 overall, 1-0 Foothill League) looked good early as senior pitcher Lukas White took the mound and made quick work of the side, but not before hitting the first batter he faced on the first pitch of the game. Luckily, Vikings catcher Jake Biscailuz bailed White out as he caught the runner napping and threw him out at first. White was able to regain his composure and retire the side as Saugus’ Chase Lindemann and Brandon Cruz hit balls up the middle that were collected and tossed to first base for the second and third outs. Saugus (3-4-1, 0-1 Foothill League), looked to junior lefty Bobby Garcia to keep the score level as the first Viking batters stepped to the plate.
While the first three batters he faced all made contact with the ball, only one was able to get on base. With two outs and a batter on first White stepped to the plate. Falling behind 0-1, White sat back and took the next two pitches for balls. On the fourth pitch, he blasted a two-run homer over the right field wall giving the Vikings a 2-0 lead over the Cents. “I just went out there looking for something to drive and once I got that pitch, I did my thing,” said White. Before the inning was over, the Vikings were able to score another run on an errant pitch that brought the Vikings’ lead to 3-0. In the middle of the second, Cents head coach Carl Grissom opted to change pitchers, bringing in Davis Brown in exchange for Garcia after allowing two-runs in half an inning of play. Brown was able to hold his own, striking out four batters in the third and fourth innings. In the middle of the fourth, he ran into some trouble. With men on first and second, Valencia’s Luke Chung stepped up to the plate and hit an RBI-single. The Vikings’ lead grew to 4-0. After walking the next batter, with the bases loaded, White stepped up to the plate. Just like he did in the first, White hit a screamer into the outfield, this time on an RBI-double. Frustrated and down six runs, Brown was ejected from the game, leaving Anthony Ramirez to relieve. Allowing his only run of the game on a wild pitch, Ramirez went to work and struck out Brock Kleszcz to end the fourth, down 7-0. In the seventh, Saugus’ bats came alive. The Cents were able to string together three singles, scoring one and ultimately ending White’s day. White finished 2-4 with four RBIs and a home run, striking out four over 6 1/2 innings on the day. The Cents were able to score three more runs as Andrew Sharp brought in two on a single and when Tony Jacob scored on a walk with the bases loaded in the final inning of play, but ultimately fell 7-4 to the Vikings. “Every game we play in the Foothill League is tough. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is we have to come out focused and get our jobs done,” said Valencia Head Coach Mike Killinger.