Winning the first two games against Saugus, Valencia baseball was poised to sweep the season series on Friday afternoon.
Saugus (9-7-1 overall, 4-3 Foothill League) entered the game with an itch that had to be scratched, as they lost to Valencia (8-11, 4-3) on Wednesday.
Pulling out a 3-2 come-from-behind win, the Centurions got two big RBIs from designated hitter Paxton Cudd in the fifth and seventh innings.
“He blew out his knee and he’s been doing everything he can to get back,” said Centurions’ head coach Carl Grissom about Cudd’s hitting. “…He can’t run very well, but he can hit so I continue to put him in there.”
“He came in clutch today and we needed that.”
Up 2-1 in the top of the fifth inning with the bases loaded, Valencia head coach Mike Killinger made the decision to pull starting pitcher Ryan Kysar, who went 4 1/3 innings, striking out four and allowing one run, in favor of Sam Stulman with Cudd up to bat.
Behind in the count 0-1, Cudd hit an outfield sacrifice fly that allowed Nolan Kutcher to tag up at third base and score, tying the game at two.
“…Getting the guys on base in the first place, I think we battled,” Cudd said. “Top part of the lineup, I think every single guy got on at least once. It was huge, I mean these are must-win ball games. If we don’t win this one we might not make playoffs and that’s kind of the goal.”
Saugus’ Brandyn Cruz pitched lights out the rest of the way, finishing his night in the sixth inning with six strikeouts and only two runs allowed.
In the top of the 7th, the action got good again.
After a leadoff triple by Kutcher, another pitching change was made by Valencia.
Lefty Nick Tanis came on to relieve Stulman. Walking the next two batters, Cudd stepped up to the plate once again.
Just like in the fifth inning with the bases loaded, Cudd swung and this time reached base safely for a single bringing in Kutcher once again to put the Cents up 3-2.
“(Cudd) was huge,” said Cruz. “…He’s a great guy in the locker room and really fun guy to be around and he’s been working hard and he really made a huge play that changed the course of the game.”
Tanis was able to get out of the inning, striking out the next three batters he faced, but the damage was done.
“That might be his 11th out in about 19 games that he’s thrown in,” said Killinger about his stud reliever. “…We use him a lot and he is an excellent reliever. He came in in probably the toughest possible situation a reliever can come in and he almost got out of it unscathed, so he’s been a great pitcher for us.”
Garrett Lite relieved Cruz and struck out two of the three batters he faced to close out the win.
“This win was huge,” Cruz said. “…we knew that if we came out here and put in our best effort and stayed clean on defense and had some good at-bats, we could pull it through.”
Vikings’ Jake Biscailuz finished the night 2-for-3 with two singles and Kyle Barileau finished 1-for-3 with a triple and a run.
Valencia will host Canyon on Wednesday, while Saugus hosts West Ranch on Friday.
Canyon 3, Golden Valley 0
The Cowboys’ Jared Heacock and Charles Harrison both went 1-for-3 with an RBI, while Conrad Meza was 1-for-2 with an RBI.Harrison pitched seven innings, striking out eight and allowing two hits.
Canyon (11-8, 3-4) plays Valencia next and Golden Valley (8-10, 0-7) plays Hart. Both games will be on Wednesday.