Saugus baseball keeps Hart at bay for second league win in a row

Saugus baseball's Tyler Hovey safely slides into second base as Hart's Rocco Saldivar catches the ball in a Foothill League game at Hart High School on Thursday. Haley Sawyer/The Signal

Saugus shortstop Hewitt Grissom snatched up a ground ball put into play by Hart’s Isaac Kim. He made the throw to Hayden Trowbridge at second to get Kendall Thomas out, then Trowbridge sent the ball over to Tony Jacob at first to get Kim out.

It seemed like such a simple way to end a long, twisting, gritty game, which the Centurions won 8-5 on Thursday at Hart High School.

“It wasn’t the perfect throw, but it still had to be done and he knows,” Saugus coach Carl Grissom said of the double-play. “But to end the game, that was kind of fitting to end on a double play.”

The first two innings consisted of routine defensive plays for both teams, with only three hits recorded between the Cents and Indians. Saugus (11-11-1 overall, 7-6 in Foothill League) ended the second inning flat with two runners left on base, but was able to pick things up in the third inning.

With recent JV call-up Connor Nassry on base after hitting a single, leadoff hitter Nolan Kutcher cracked a home run over the right field fence to give the Centurions a 2-0 advantage.

“I thought it was going to hit the fence if anything,” Kutcher said. “Just put a good swing on it, I was 0-2, put a good swing on it, been working on that pitch for a while and it worked out for the best.”

Colton Fitzgerald and Hewitt Grissom each followed up with a single, then Brandyn Cruz hit a single to drive in Fitzgerald.

In the fourth inning, Saugus’ Anthony Ramirez hit an RBI double to score Jacob, who previously hit a double.

The Indians (10-18, 5-8) rallied for the first time in the fourth inning, with Thomas scoring on a balk. Four at-bats later, Cooper Austin was able to hit an RBI single to bring in David Holuby and cut the deficit to 4-2.

Hart made its first pitching change of the afternoon in the top of the fifth inning, exchanging Warner Rhodes for Pat Arman. The Indians retired the side in the fifth, but allowed four runs in the sixth.

The Centurions scored two runs on an error, then Hewitt Grissom laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Kutcher. Jarrett Farmer added one more run, hitting an RBI double to bring in Fitzgerald.

“Everybody did their part whether it was a bunt or a fly ball, I mean, just a team win,” Cole Gallagher said. “It’s not just one guy who wins it all. I’m glad I got to pitch in the game when everything was clicking.”

After Farmer’s double, Ian Sockett came in for Arman at pitcher and forced Cruz to pop out to get out of the inning.

Rallying again in the bottom of the sixth inning, Thomas hit a single, then Kim was walked. Saugus brought in Bobby Garcia at pitcher in exchange for Gallagher immediately after. Holuby then hit a single to load the bases and Jakob Marquez stepped up to crack a two-run single. Austin hit a sacrifice fly to bring the score to 8-5, but it was all the Indians could manage.

“We rallied late, we competed, can’t complain about that,” said Hart coach Jim Ozella. “We competed, we had some plays that we wish we could’ve taken back, that’s kind of been the story a bit all year.”

Hart made its fourth and final pitching change in the top of the seventh, bringing in Judah Silverman, who forced Nassry to ground out. Saugus also brought in one last pitcher in the seventh with Cruz throwing for the full inning.

“Get ahead, stay ahead, just throw strikes,” Gallagher, who gave up six hits while striking out five in five innings, said of what he told his fellow pitchers. “If you get ahead and stay ahead, you’ll be fine.”

It’s the second win of the week for the Centurions, who shut out West Ranch 1-0 on Tuesday. It’s good momentum for Saugus, which is pushing for its first playoff appearance since 2015.

“We’ve got to keep the rhythm going,” Gallagher said. “We have a lot of momentum right now, but we can’t get too cocky, too lackadaisical because we’ve just got to keep the pedal to the metal and keep working and keep grinding.

“We have a capable ball club that can do some good and if we keep doing that, I think we’ll win a lot of games.”

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