Hart baseball controls VIBL game from start to finish, beats Royal

Hart junior William Johnson scores early in a VIBL matchup with Royal High School at Hart High School Monday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“Control the game, slow it down, take your time,” said Hart baseball head coach Jim Ozella to his pitcher Daniel Parra after giving up a leadoff single to begin the game.

Listening to the encouraging words of his coach, Parra did just that and was masterful in the Indians 4-2 win over Royal High School at Hart on Monday.

Playing the first of five games on their Valley Invitational Baseball League schedule this week, Hart looked good in its sixth overall VIBL game, combining good pitching with timely hitting.

After giving up a single in the top of the first inning, Parra was able to locate his spots and throw some heat the rest of the way, getting the win in four innings of work and only giving up one earned run on three hits, while striking out four and walking one batter.

“I was just feeling good,” Parra said. “I had more trust in my pitches lately and I felt I was doing good on the 3-2 curve, I think I got a guy on that. It’s good that I can get more of my pitches going in any count, getting ahead with the fastball and then breaking them with the curve. I felt like the offense was doing pretty good today by getting ahead of the guys so I can relax on the mound.”

Following the senior pitcher’s lead, Indians’ leadoff hitter William Johnson got on base with a single and later scored on a Malachi Soqui RBI sacrifice fly to left field to give Hart a 1-0 lead.

In his next at-bat in the second inning, Johnson came through again, this time driving in a run on an RBI-triple bringing in Kyle Thompson from first base to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.

Johnson went 4-for-4 with three singles, a triple and an RBI.

In the bottom of the third inning, Royal made a pitching change that proved costly. After the leadoff hitter in the inning Soqui walked, Matt Quintanar singled to center field to put a runner in scoring position.

Robert Plante was thrown out at first after a bunt to advance the runners, then Hunter Pohl was hit by a pitch to load the bases and after back-to-back wild pitches by Royal, Soqui and Quintanar scored to push the lead to 4-0 in Hart’s favor.

“Will Johnson had four quality at-bats and is getting better,” Ozella said. “Quintanar had some quality at-bats too, and is getting better. That’s what summer is about new guys, new faces and trying to see how they kind of fit in a bit.”

Royal got on the board in the fourth, but Parra was able to get out of the inning surrendering just one run.

Junior pitcher Jake Villar came in to relieve Parra in the top of the fifth inning, running into some trouble in the first at-bat. Giving up back-to-back doubles to the first two hitters, Villar allowed one run to score before striking out two of the final three batters to end the inning up 4-2.

“Villar was really good,” Ozella said. “…He’s been really good all summer pitching. In and out, spinning it and just trying to improve. We have been having three guys throw per game, and this week we have five games this week, and we have some guys out of town so guys know they are getting extended a little more. It gives them a chance to learn and maybe make a mistake and still be okay, but get better. That’s what it’s about.”

Learning from his mistakes, Villar closed out the final two innings giving up one hit, striking out one and finished the game giving up three hits, while striking out three

“We did a lot of execution, got the leadoff guy on, moved people over and drove them in,” Ozella’s said. “We did that in the first couple innings and got ourselves the lead. Our pitchers threw well. We played good defense, pretty much, other than one missed play. But that was a good game for us, very little sloppiness.”

The Indians improve to 5-1 in VIBL play and continue with the second game of their five-day, five-game VIBL schedule tomorrow as they travel to Crescenta Valley to take on the Falcons at 6 p.m.

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