Like many other prep baseball players, Hart’s Josh Cerpa has a routine when he steps up to the plate: He grips his bat with two hands, lets out a deep breath, then holds the bat vertically in his left hand and pounds it with his right fist.
“(It) helps me get locked in for the next pitch,” Cerpa said. “So say I’m 0-2, the pitcher has the advantage on me so I flush the last two pitches, step right in the box, if I’m taking my first swing it’s what helps me.”
Cerpa’s superstition paid dividends against Saugus on Friday, as his late-game RBI double helped wake up the Indians’ offense and push them to a 4-3 win over the Centurions.
Facing a 3-0 deficit, Hart (15-10 overall, 9-2 in Foothill League) tallied four runs in the seventh inning to capture the win.
With runners on second and third due to a Saugus error, Cerpa hit his RBI single, which was proceeded by a two-run double from Trever Coogan that tied the game at 3-all.
“I thought it was getting caught and I looked at the guy and he starts running backwards, so that was even more of a joy for me,” Coogan said.
“And then the first thing I looked at was the scoreboard and it said 2-3 and I said ‘all right, we need to get another one,’ but then they put the other run in and I was even more ecstatic.”
Brooks Statley drove in a run on a sacrifice bunt to end the scoring run and secure the win.
Prior to Hart’s action, Saugus (10-11-1, 5-6) steadily chugged along, executing routine plays on defense – including two double plays that ended the third and the fourth inning.
Chase Lindemann picked up an RBI on a ground out in the third inning, then Andy Vierra hit an RBI single to give the Cents an early 2-0 lead.
Lindemann drove in another run in the following inning on a sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, pitcher Brandyn Cruz struck out four and gave up three hits in five innings of work.
“He pitched a real good game and he was giving us fits,” said Hart coach Jim Ozella. “Give them credit, they were aggressive on us and they got a lead on us.”
Ryan Carolan threw a complete game for Hart, yielding four hits while recording six strikeouts – two of which came in the seventh inning.
“(I) went out there, got my run support that I wanted,” Carolan said. “I wanted my team to do that, they got me that, I told them I’d get the ‘dub’ if they did and I’m a man of my word. I can’t let them down.”
The Indians win the series against the Centurions 2-1 and play South High of Torrance in the Redondo Tournament on Saturday.
Saugus next takes on Golden Valley on Wednesday with a playoff berth in mind.
“That’s my only goal right now and stay positive and hopefully win our next four and hopefully that’ll be enough to get us in,” said Saugus coach Carl Grissom.
NOTES — Hart senior and UCLA commit Cole Roederer injured his non-throwing shoulder in practice earlier in the week. He suffered a grade 3 AC separation and will be out of action for four to six weeks. This comes in addition to a strained hamstring that came in a game against West Ranch on April 11.