Saugus baseball beats West Ranch in pitchers’ duel

Saugus pitcher Bobby Garcia (13) throws against West Ranch at Saugus High School on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Tuesday’s baseball game between Saugus and West Ranch featured two pitchers who brought their best stuff to the mound.

Saugus’ Bobby Garcia and West Ranch’s JD Callahan battled all afternoon, with the former earning the win, as the Centurions defeated the Wildcats 1-0 in a classic pitchers’ duel.

“He just shoved it, he pitched fantastic. He had a pitch here or there where he missed his spots, but for the most part, he hit his spots and he got outs when we needed them. Just outstanding,” Saugus head coach Carl Grissom said about Garcia’s performance.

“I thought both guys were pretty lights out today. I think today’s game could have gone in any direction,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “They caught the big break when they needed to, but both arms were very dominant. We knew from the get-go it was going to be a low scoring game.”

Garcia struck out five batters and allowed just four hits in a complete game shutout, and Callahan struck out six and allowed only two hits, but those two hits proved costly.

In the bottom of the third with two outs, sophomore right fielder Connor Nassry stepped up to the plate in the No. 9 spot and hit a single, then advanced to second base on a wild pitch.

Saugus’ Connor Nassry (26) gets a base hit in the third inning against West Ranch at Saugus High School on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Center fielder Nolan Kutcher was hit by a pitch leading to sophomore catcher Colton Fitzgerald’s at-bat. Fitzgerald went down 0-2 in the count but was able to connect with a base hit on the third pitch, scoring Nassry and earning the only RBI of the game.

“We played intersquad games during spring break, I had Connor up in the fall, I thought he might have been a little overmatched so I put him back down in JV to let him get his swings in,” Grissom said. “Then I watched him in those spring break games and I’m like, he’s ready. He’s a smart kid, 4.5 student, great overall young man. He was huge.”

“It’s great to have such an amazing opportunity and my coach has so much trust and hope in me,” Nassry said. “It’s amazing to be out here with all these guys, just an amazing experience.”

With the Centurions (10-11 overall, 6-6 in Foothill League) on the board midway through the game, Garcia and the defense took care of the rest.

The senior lefty relied mostly on his fastball, painting the strike zone to near-perfection.

Saugus baserunner Nolan Kutcher (5) beats the throw to Saugus short stop Ryan Farr at second base in the third inning at Saugus High School on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“The two-seam fastball, I had good movement on it today. Either tailing away from righties or cutting the corner in on lefties,” Garcia said. “So I think the two-seam, I was able to overpower and pound the zone with it.”

Garcia gave up three hits in the first four innings, and allowed just one hit in the last three innings, seemingly getting stronger as the game progressed.

West Ranch (20-5, 9-3) catcher Nicholas Perez was the most successful against Garcia, going 2-for-3. Right fielder Garret Monheim and third baseman Sam Callan were the other two West Ranch batters who recorded hits.

“I can never let up, any one bad pitch they can capitalize. Their one through five are great hitters and the bottom half of their lineup is just as good, so I can’t let up,” Garcia said. “I have to be on my game and when excitement builds up, I kind of get fired up and I’m able to keep pounding the zone.”

Saugus’ defense also came up big to help secure the shutout, with shortstop Hewitt Grissom making some acrobatic catches and the outfielders using their speed to make sure no balls dropped.

Saugus will try to build on Tuesday’s win, facing Hart on Thursday on the road.

“You have all the excitement and joy of winning this game, but Hart is going to give us everything they have. If we don’t match their intensity and come out with some fire and try to beat them, this game will mean nothing,” Grissom said. “We have to come out there with the same effort. Coach (Jim) Ozella is amazing, he’s going to have those guys ready to go and we just have to be ready too.”

West Ranch will look to rebound on the road against Canyon on Thursday in a must-win game if the Wildcats want to remain in contention for the top spot in the Foothill League.

“We need to take care of business, we need to win the next three games,” Burrill said. “Win out and get some help somewhere along the way from one of our Foothill League colleagues and take it from there.”

Both games are scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m.

Valencia 4, Canyon 3

The Vikings inched closer to a Foothill League title on Tuesday, defeating the Cowboys at home by scoring the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Valencia’s (16-11, 11-1) Davis Cop reached base with a walk, then stole second base. Cop advanced to third on a passed ball and scored the winning run off an RBI from Brock Kleszcz.

The Vikings got their first run in the bottom of the second with Kleszcz hitting a single, then advancing to third off a base hit from Parker Simonian. Kleszcz then scored on a passed ball.

Canyon (8-14, 4-8) scored three runs in the top of the fourth, starting with a successful bunt from Charles Harrison. Justin Powell was hit by a pitch and Josh Ortega hit a single to load the bases. Harrison scored off a groundout RBI from Cebastian Arriaga and Powell and Ortega both scored off a Valencia throwing error.

Valencia tied the game in the bottom of the fifth as Cop hit a single to score Sean Ogrin, who had walked and advanced to second on a passed ball. Cop was driven home by a base hit from Mitchell Torres.

Ryan Kysar got the start on the mound for Valencia and Tyler Robitaille came on in relief in the top of the fifth inning.

Harrison pitched the majority of the game for Canyon, with Jacob Melville coming on in relief in the bottom of the seventh inning with one out.

Valencia will face Golden Valley at home next and Canyon will play West Ranch at home. Both games are slated to start at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Hart 8, Golden Valley 3

The Indians and Grizzlies both scored three runs in the first inning, but Hart pulled away by scoring five more runs combined in the next three innings to secure the win at home on Tuesday afternoon.

Daniel Parra started on the mound for Hart (10-17, 5-7), giving up three hits to the first five batters he faced, but also recorded three strikeouts in the inning. Golden Valley’s (6-20, 1-11) Chase Hwang hit a double to score Bryson James and Dylan Daszek, and then Hwang was able to score on a passed ball.

Pitcher Daniel Goodwin got the start for Golden Valley, giving up three hits to the first four batters he faced. Patrick Arman was able to score off a double from David Holuby and then Isaac Kim scored on a sacrifice fly from Cooper Austin. Holuby scored after a balk was called on Goodwin.

Hart’s Ben Niednagel scored the lone run in the second inning after being walked and stealing second base. A single from Arman brought Niednagel home.

Rocco Saldivar hit a single in the bottom of the third to score Austin, who had reached base with a bunt and stole second earlier in the inning. Tyler Vannix then hit a double to score Saldivar.

Hart scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth after a Golden Valley error. Arman took over for Parra in the top of the sixth inning and closed out the win.

The Indians will face Saugus at home and the Grizzlies will hit the road to take on Valencia on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

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About the author

Dan Lovi

Dan Lovi

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dan has covered sports from the high school level to the professional ranks. He is a graduate of Hofstra University in New York and The University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He is a sports writer for The Signal.