With West Ranch fighting to keep a top-three spot in the Foothill League and Saugus on the hunt for a top-three spot, the two teams battled it out on Wednesday afternoon.
The Centurions defeated the Wildcats 6-2, moving them into a three-way tie for second place with a 5-3 record. With the season series ending on Friday at West Ranch (13-8 overall, 5-3 Foothill League), Saugus head coach Carl Grissom anticipates a tough game on Friday.
“We have to go back there on Friday and you know they are going to bring everything they possibly can to destroy us,” Grissom said. “We have to match their energy, match their intensity and just try to hang with them.”
Jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first, Saugus (10-7-1, 5-3) scored three consecutive runs after Paxton Cudd, with runners on second and third, came in clutch bringing in the game’s first run on a sacrifice groundout, scoring one.
Andy Vierra, who went 1-for-3 on the day, followed with an RBI single that went over the first baseman’s head to score the runner from third and put the Cents up 2-0.
The last and final run of the inning came when Wildcats pitcher Alex Burge made a subtle move towards first, according to the second base umpire and was called for a balk, allowing Brandyn Cruz to score from third.
Heading into the second inning, the Cents led 3-0.
Clamping down defensively, both schools’ pitchers (Davis Brown of Saugus and Burge of West Ranch) did not allow a hit until the top of the fourth when the Wildcats’ Christos Stefanos hit a two-run double scoring Ryan Perez and Jovan Camacho.
In the middle of the fourth, the Wildcats trailed 3-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, West Ranch decided to swap pitchers as Trent Bird came into relieve Burge. Giving up a double to the first batter he faced, Bird was able to get out of the inning without surrendering another hit.
It wasn’t until the sixth that he ran into some trouble.
Just as they did in the team’s first at-bat, Saugus scored three more runs in their last at-bat. With a runner on second, Hewitt Grissom launched an RBI triple into the outfield.
“I was just trying to be clutch,” Hewitt said about his big hit in the sixth. “… And to do that for my team and give us more momentum for the top of the seventh was huge. I just felt good being clutch for the team.
After JC Choy was hit by a pitch and took first, Andrew Sharp stepped to the plate hitting an RBI double clearing the bases, scoring Grissom and Choy and putting the Cents up 6-2 after six.
In the top of the seventh, retiring the first two batters and after giving up a single to the third, Brown was able to pop up Nikko Clarke to right field for the game’s final out.
“He was huge,” Carl said about his pitcher. “We went back and forth on who we were going to throw today and if we didn’t have that error, he would have had a shutout. He pitched great and that was exactly what we needed.”
With the win, Saugus seems to be hitting their stride winning the last two games against the two teams that they sit in the second place tie: Valencia and West Ranch.
The Wildcats will have a chance a avenge the loss as the season series moves to West Ranch Friday for the last matchup between the two.
The game is set for 3:30 at West Ranch.
“We certainly have the game of our life on Friday,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “We need to have Friday just to even hold a tiebreaker for league playoff-type implications, so Friday is a big game for both teams and we feel our boys will come out to play.”