Saugus baseball builds early lead, defeats Hart in summer game

Saugus baserunner Connor Nassry (2) beats the throw to Hart's Kyle Thompson (48) at second at Saugus on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Two Foothill League teams met on Wednesday evening at Saugus High School for summer baseball action, as the Hart Indians took on the Saugus Centurions in a Valley Invitational Baseball League game.

The Centurions built an early three-run lead through three innings and were able to hang on to their advantage, defeating the Indians 7-3.

Hayden Trowbridge started the scoring for the Cents in the bottom of the second inning by getting on base with a double to center field. Michael Stell moved him over to third with a sacrifice bunt and Trowbridge came across home plate on a passed ball to make the score 1-0.

Hart answered in the top of the third inning, as Isaiah Alvarado got on base after being hit by a pitch. Kyle Thompson moved him over to second with a sacrifice bunt, then leadoff hitter Ryan Benz reached base due to a Saugus error on the infield, also allowing Alvarado to score. 

“That’s the name of the game, if we don’t play defense we don’t win. We gave up three runs, two of them were on errors. It’s the little things,” said Saugus head coach Carl Grissom. “It’s good that they can see that the runs on the board are not by our pitchers, but by us making mistakes. If we clean up those mistakes then we’ll be fine.”

Saugus came back to score three runs in the bottom of the third, starting with Tucker Panarisi getting to second base after an error by the Hart outfield. Connor Nassry walked and then Mauricio Guardado hit a single to score Panarisi. 

Trowbridge came up with his second hit of the game, a single to left scoring Nassry and moving Guardado to third. Guardado then reached home after Stell hit an RBI single. 

Nassry and Trowbridge both saw time on the varsity team last year, and their leadership will be relied upon heavily this upcoming year as Saugus graduated 15 seniors from last year’s roster.

Saugus’ Keenan Egan (2) makes the catch to end the first inning against Hart at Saugus on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“It’s huge, I told them after it was all over last season, ‘You guys are the ones that are coming back, you guys know how it goes,’” Grissom said about Nassry and Trowbridge. “They have to know what to do and what to expect and bring these other guys along. It’s not easy, but I think those guys are good leaders, so it’ll be good for us.”

“It’s extremely important, Trowbridge and I, we have to get into the guys, get them going,” Nassry said. “You need a head of the team to build everybody up and get everybody going and teach the game.”

Hart put up another run in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to 4-2, starting with a double to center field from catcher Matt Quintanar. Tyler Vannix moved him to third with a single and then Malachi Soqui hit a sacrifice fly to score Quintanar. 

Quintanar finished the game 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

“He’s been really good all summer, he’s been a shining example of improvement,” Hart head coach Jim Ozella said about his catcher. “It’s just a whole new deal, new personality, we’re trying to figure ourselves out.”

The Indians were able to tack on another run in the top of the fifth, beginning with Benz getting on base due to a Saugus error and then stealing second base. Robert Plante came in off the bench for his first at-bat of the game and hit a single to move Benz to third base. Quintanar then hit a single to score Benz.

Hart had other opportunities to score, leaving two players on base in the fifth inning with one out and leaving two players on base in the second inning with no outs.

“That’s what we’re trying to do, to learn, to play the game the right way. Do the little things and things will get better,” Ozella said. “We made a lot of mistakes today and in many regards it’s good for us, you don’t learn unless you make mistakes. We need to make less mistakes, then it would have been a one-run ball game, but that’s what summer is about.”

Saugus’ Colin Yeaman (34) makes the force out on Hart’s Tyler Vannix (68) at second and then throws to first base for the double play in the second inning at Saugus on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Up 4-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Centurions gave themselves a bigger cushion by scoring three more runs.

Colin Yeaman got on base with a walk and then Panarisi advanced him and reached base with a bunt. Nassry hit a single to score Yeaman and was able to advance to second base and Panarisi to third as Hart made the throw to home.

Panarisi scored off a wild pitch and then Sam Giordano came in off the bench and hit a single in his first at-bat to score Nassry.

The Centurions used five pitchers in total, starting with Jaiden Patterson in the first two innings, Darren Davis in the third inning, Carson Knapp in the fourth, Keenan Egan in the fifth and Jon Bahr closed it out in the sixth and seventh innings.

Although each individual pitcher was throwing well, Grissom wanted them all to get in on the action as the Centurions prepare for a slate of games this weekend in Fresno at the annual Buchanan Varsity Tourney.

“We’re going to Fresno this weekend and playing in the tourney, so I wanted to get each guy an inning,” he said. “It’s just a tune-up for this weekend. I wanted them to get their work in and be ready to go.”

Ozella went with Massimo Vega on the mound to start the game, who went 3 ⅔ innings. Jake Villar came in and pitched the two middle innings before Judah Silverman took over in the sixth. 

The Indians will take on Golden Valley on Friday in their next game and the Centurions will head to Fresno to play four games in two days, starting with Clovis East on Friday.

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