Hart baseball starts out strong, falls to Thousand Oaks

The Hart baseball team competed in its third game in three days, taking on Thousand Oaks on Monday afternoon in its last game of the Martin Luther King Weekend Baseball Bonanza hosted by Thousand Oaks High School.

The Indians got off to a strong start, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but it was the only runs they would score on the afternoon, falling to the Lancers 15-2.

Hart head coach Jim Ozella said his team needed to do a better job of controlling the game against an aggressive Thousand Oaks team that has the ability to score a flurry of runs quickly.

“They are a very aggressive team, very talented. They are the kind of team that when you give them an inch, they take a mile,” Ozella said. “When you play teams that are very excitable, you got to control the game. Control what you can control and we didn’t do a very good job of that.”

Hitting in the No. 2 spot, Ryan Benz was able to get on base with a walk in the top of the first inning, then stole second base.

Pitcher Patrick Arman batted third, and though he flew out to right field, he wore down the opposing pitcher by hitting several foul balls and battling throughout the at-bat.

Batting in the cleanup spot, Isaac Kim stepped up and belted a home run, driving in Benz and giving the Indians a 2-0 advantage.

Arman kept the lead intact in the first inning, and the Indians looked poised to score again in the second inning.

Left fielder David Holuby recorded a base hit down the middle, then stole second. He advanced to third after a wild pitch with only one out on the board.

Third baseman Rocco Saldivar then reached first with a walk, but was called out when he tried to steal second. Batting ninth, second baseman Ben Niednagel grounded out, ending the inning.

It was the last good opportunity for the Indians to score, as they logged only two more hits the rest of the way. They had four hits in total compared to 12 for the Lancers.

Thousand Oaks began its offensive onslaught in the bottom of the second, starting with a double, then a triple and another double. The Lancers then hit a two-run home run to bring the score to 4-2 heading into the third inning.

The Lancers scored twice more in the third inning and Ozella subbed junior left-handed pitcher Judah Silverman in for Arman.

Silverman had a rough fourth inning, giving up nine runs and three walks, including a bases-loaded walk bringing in a run.

“It’s a matter of learning from everything that you do. Pat made some really good pitches and that’s what he’s got to take out of it. He also made some pitches that were not as good as they need to be,” Ozella said. “Judah is a junior just coming up to varsity. It’s a different ball game, eye-opening a little bit. We’ve played a lot of winter games and he’s been pretty good, but today he wasn’t. He can’t get down, just have to keep moving forward.”

Trailing 15-2, junior pitcher Ian Sockett entered the game in the fifth inning and delivered three quick outs.

He did the same in the sixth inning, giving up only one hit in the two innings he pitched.

“Ian was very good. He’s been making a lot of progress. Obviously, he has a little bit of a different style that’s very unique. You don’t see many left-handers from down under,” Ozella said about Sockett, whose pitching style resembles that of a submarine pitcher. “He didn’t worry about the scoreboard, he didn’t worry about what this hitter had done at his last at-bat. He just went out and attacked the zone and that’s all I’m asking.”

Though the result wasn’t to Ozella’s liking, he said his team had a solid overall weekend and made good progress.

Hart defeated Rio Mesa on Saturday and came from behind to beat Royal on Sunday.

Winter baseball provides a good opportunity for players and coaches to better prepare for the upcoming season.

“We played three games in three days which is an opportunity for us to keep making improvements. Today we took a step backward, but hopefully we’ll see how we handle that and see what kind of character we have,” Ozella said. “The first day was really good, yesterday we were down and came back to win so there are some positives. Next weekend we got some more games and then it’s almost February. It’s coming fast.”

The Indians will play a few more winter games before the season officially begins on Saturday, Feb. 9 when Hart takes on Agoura in its first game of the Easton Southern California Showdown Tournament.

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