Stuck in a two-run hole heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, any miniscule play could have given Hart baseball some momentum against Cleveland on Monday. “Basically just get a baserunner on and lead off that,” said Hart first baseman Eddie Tejeda. “If we got a baserunner on, scored him, all we need was one more runner to get around to take us to extra.” As Ian Sockett held steady and closed out the game on the mound, the Indians offense was unable to manufacture the momentum needed for extra innings and fell to the Cavaliers 4-1 at Hart in the quarterfinals of the Valley Invitational Baseball League quarterfinals. “Fall will come around and winter will come around,” said Indians coach Jim Ozella. “It’s what it’s about. It’s a work in progress. We’re not a finished product.” Hart was the first to dent the scoreboard with an RBI double from David Holuby in the first inning. The Indians were able to keep Cleveland at Bay until the fourth inning when Esteban Perez drove in two runs with a single to pull the Cavaliers ahead 2-1. Tejeda sparked a short rally in the fifth inning as he launched a single to deep left field, then stole second. Peter Niednagel then reached first on a passed ball and Cooper Austin was able to chalk up a run with a sacrifice groundout that allowed Tejeda to score.
“Just stay locked in pitch by pitch,” Tejeda said of his mindset during the game. “It’s kind of game of failure, so you can’t really stay locked into the past, so you’ve got to be looking towards the future and you never know what’s going to come up next so you have to stay locked in.” Cleveland scored its final two runs in the sixth inning off another two-run single, this one courtesy of Robert Velasco. Four different pitchers rotated in for the Indians: Pat Arman, Daniel Parra, Judah Silverman and Sockett. Each will have a shot at a starting job come spring as last year’s starters Bryce Collins and Ryan Carolan graduated. Sockett brought a unique flair to the game as a lefty submarine thrower. He was able to strike out one batter between the sixth and seventh innings, while forcing another four to ground out. “When I first started, the coaches knew that I was a lower angle, so they decided to go all the way.” Sockett said he’s still working on his ability to throw strikes, just as many of the other underclassmen are making adjustments to their game as Hart prepares to defend its league title in the next prep baseball season. “It’s good for them to be challenged a little bit and grow up a little bit,” Ozella said. “This didn’t work out today. What this is about is making improvement in the summer. Now we’ve got to make a lot more improvement before we get to the spring.”
Hart ties Cleveland in the fifth inning on a sacrifice groundout from Austin. 2-2 in the VIBL quarters. pic.twitter.com/3AUvdhMCDZ— Haley Sawyer (@haleymsawyer) July 10, 2018
Saugus 4, Golden Valley 3Tyler Hovey had two RBIs for the Centurions, while Tony Jacob and Hewitt Grissom each had one. Davis Brown pitched a complete game on the mound. Saugus will continue VIBL play against Chatsworth in the semifinals at Chatsworth on Wednesday at 5 p.m.