Throughout a summer season that has involved baseball practice, football practice and family vacations, the Valencia baseball team had a rare opportunity to play as a complete unit on Sunday against El Toro.
Although the Vikings showed flashes of brilliance, they struggled to find chemistry and fell to the Chargers 10-5 at Valencia in the So Cal Classic.
“We just really haven’t gotten to like, bond together and stuff and like, be on the field all together at the same time,” Mitchell Torres, a junior-to-be, said. “So it’s tough this summer, but hopefully getting into the fall, it’s going to get easier and we’re going to start clicking.”
El Toro put up four runs within the first four innings, a scoring run that was capped by a two-run double.
Valencia was unable to dent the scoreboard until the bottom of the fourth frame when Brock Kleszcz drove in Torres on a single. Torres, who ended the game 2-for-4, had smacked a double two at-bats earlier to set up the play.
“I’m just seeing the ball well,” Torres said. “Lately I’ve been just pressing at the plate and my coach has been telling me just relax and I was swinging it today, so it was pretty good.”
After the Chargers tacked on another run on a passed ball in the fifth inning, the Vikes were ready to begin a late rally.
Steven Gonzalez blasted a double, then stole third, setting up a perfect scoring situation for Nick Lottermoser, who drove in a run on a sacrifice fly.
El Toro, which reached the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 tournament last season, countered with four runs of its own to bring the score to 10-2, but Valencia hadn’t lost all their momentum quite yet.
The Vikings scored three more runs in the seventh inning. John Haimowitz ended the rally with an RBI single, then scored on a passed ball to close out the game.
Three Valencia players, including Torres and Davis Cop, who was 1-for-3 against the Chargers, have been in and out of the lineup as they split time between baseball and football practices over the summer.
Coach Mike Killinger doesn’t see that as a completely bad thing, though.
“It just gives so many kids opportunities,” he said. “We’ve had some kids that came up from JV that have done really well … Those guys playing football it just gets them better, too. They get more competitive.”
The Vikes finished 9-6 in Foothill League play last season for a third-place finish in the final standings. They’ll look to capitalize on a playoff run that included a first-round upset of Harvard-Westlake in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 tournament in the coming spring season.