The Hart baseball outfield ran towards the fence, eyes towards the sky. Then, all of the sudden, their eyes were turned to the ground and their shoulders hunched.
West Ranch’s Garrett Monheim had just hit a home run over the right-field fence, sending the ball well out of the Indian outfield’s reach. The homer just about sealed the game, which the Wildcats would eventually win 5-2.
Just as much as he was thinking about his own hit, Monheim was thinking about his pitcher in that moment.
“Going into that at-bat, I was just thinking about putting more runs on the board and Cade (Nicol) shoved all game,” Monheim said.
Nick Perez got the scoring going early for the Cats (5-2 overall, 2-0 in Foothill League), hitting an RBI double in the team’s second at-bat of the game to drive in Jovan Camacho.
Ryan Farr followed up in the second inning, laying down a sacrifice bunt to score Ryan Tucker. It was Farr’s first RBI of the game and it gave West Ranch a 2-0 lead.
“For me, I felt like I saw the ball better at the plate,” Farr said of his improvements since Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Hart. “Came up in base hit situations this time, had two RBIs. It was all around a good team win.”
The Indians (4-5, 0-2) were able to battle back in the third inning to tie the game.
Ryn Benz doubled to get on base, then stole third. Pat Arman hit a single to drive in Benz and give the Indians their first run of Foothill League play this season. Two at-bats later, Kendall Thomas doubled to send Arman home and tie the score at 2-2.
“We did a little better job executing when we had runners on base,” Arman said. “On Wednesday we had bases loaded a couple of times and we didn’t get the ‘dub’ and I feel like we did a lot better job on that.”
Farr was able to get the advantage back in West Ranch’s favor in the following frame, hitting a single to make it 3-2.
“I was trying to just get the runner in from third,” Farr said. “Just anything, just trying to put the ball in play and not strike out and I was able to hit a little ground ball to third base but it ended up getting the job done.”
West Ranch was unable to record a hit in the fifth inning, but Monheim was able to hit his homer in the sixth to just about end the game.
Nicol left the mound shortly after, throwing for six innings and recording seven strikeouts while giving up four hits. Trent Bird finished the last inning, logging one K and yielding one hit.
“My coaches just keep on me, staying focused in the game, one pitch at a time when I’m on the mound,” Nicol said. “Just getting hitters out. Every hitter is a different hitter, so attacking each hitter differently.”
The Wildcats were able to put up one more run in the seventh inning as Monheim hit a sacrifice fly to score Nick Perez.
Hart’s Steven Boggs was able to get on base in the bottom of the inning with a single, but the Cats executed a double-play on the following at-bat to finish off the game.
The Indians, who are currently missing three starting players due to injury, showed improvement since Wednesday’s shutout, but have yet to fully adjust to the new lineup.
“Both games we really stepped it up with seniors,” Hart coach Jim Ozella said. “We just need more guys to step it up and not get down. We’re competing right now and obviously, the results aren’t where we want to be, but right now, it’s where we are.”
West Ranch next plays Calabasas at 3:15 on Monday at The Master’s University before resuming Foothill League play at Saugus on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Hart hosts Golden Valley on Wednesday at 3 p.m.