Valencia’s pitching dooms Saugus in Foothill League baseball opener

Valencia junior pitcher Tyler Robitaille brings the heat in a league matchup with Saugus at Saugus High School on February 27. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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Valencia baseball came into its Foothill League opener against Saugus focused.

Breaking the game wide open in the third and fourth innings, Valencia manufactured runs and handed Saugus its first Foothill League loss in a 3-1 victory at Saugus on Wednesday.

“We came out real focused and Tyler Robitaille led the way on the mound,” said Valencia head coach Mike Killinger. “He gave up a tough infield one-hop single and that was all he gave up on the day. He ended up striking out 10, just a total dominant performance.”

In the top of the third inning with one out, Valencia right fielder Parker Simonian connected, hitting a single into left field. With Simonian on first, third baseman Davis Cop hit a line drive down the third baseline bringing in Simonian all the way from first base for the game’s first run on an RBI triple.

Robitaille was able to make quick work of the Saugus side on a grounder, a pop fly and a strikeout.

Through three innings, Robitaille struck out five batters.

Valencia junior Brock Kleszcz pulls one down the line in a league matchup with Saugus at Saugus High School on Wednesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Leading off the top of the fourth inning, Valencia’s Brock Kleszcz singled to center. After Matt Cotti and Grant Weiss both singled to center field, the bases were loaded with no outs for Owen Strader.

Strader singled, bringing Kleszcz home from third to pump the Valencia lead to 2-0.

The next batter, Sean Ogrin, sent a sacrifice fly into the outfield allowing Cotti to tag and score the Vikes’ second run of the inning and third of the game.

“We were able to put bats together,” Killinger said of the third- and fourth-inning scoring. “Parker Simonian got a one-out single and then Davis turned on one and put it in the corner for a triple, that was huge. We almost had another run, but he got thrown out at the plate on another play. Then we came right back and had a couple bloopers that fell, but that’s baseball goes sometimes.”

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In the bottom of the sixth, Saugus’ Nolan Kutcher singled up the middle to lead off the inning. Hewitt Grissom popped out and Tony Jacob walked, bringing Brandon Cruz to the plate.

Cruz came through, hitting a single to bring Kutcher in from third base to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Saugus pitcher Bobby Garcia sends a pitch toward the plate in a league matchup with Saugus at Saugus High School on Wednesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Anthony Ramirez came in to relieve Garcia at the top of the seventh inning and made quick work, striking two out of the three batters he faced to give Saugus one last chance for a comeback.

After a grounder and another strikeout, Robitaille was pulled in favor of Nick Lottermoser, who got Jarrett Farmer to groundout to end the game.

Robitaille finished the game striking out 10 batters in 6 2/3 innings for Valencia.

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“My mindset was to just come in here and dominate and show them what I can do,” Robitaille said. “Honestly, I just stayed focused the whole game. Curveball looked good and I got ahead of batters after the first inning.”

Valencia hosts Saugus to complete the second game between the two teams at 3 p.m. on Friday.

“We have to hit. We got one hit today,” said Saugus head coach Carl Grissom. “Until we start hitting, it’s not going to really matter. From the Foothill game to today, we just are not hitting. If we can’t put any runs on the board what does it matter? It’s just very frustrating. We will get out of it, but we just have to be patient.”

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