With only one week left in the summer baseball schedule, the Valencia Vikings traveled to Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks on Wednesday to take on one of the area’s best teams.
The Vikings held their own and took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, but the Knights came back in the bottom of the inning with seven runs of their own to claim a 7-2 victory.
Valencia had an opportunity to get out of the fourth inning quickly, but two costly errors on the defense allowed the first two Notre Dame batters to get on base, leading to the scoring explosion.
“I literally told them when they came in the field after that inning if you can’t play defense you can’t win,” said Valencia head coach Mike Killinger. “A lot of the summer is about giving opportunities to kids, giving them chances to earn spots and sometimes we have some bumpy innings like that. Other than that we threw zeros the rest of the game. If you give up two with the errors or three we can survive, but we ended up giving up seven. Sometimes those things snowball on you.”
Senior-to-be and leadoff hitter Parker Simonian got the offense going for the Vikings, smashing the first pitch of the game to center for a single, though Valencia couldn’t capitalize.
Simonian started the fourth inning with a walk, and upcoming senior Steven Gonzalez brought him home after launching a double. Grant Weiss, who is also entering his senior year, got on base with a single and then Jakob Marquez, a transfer from Hart, hit into a double play but logged an RBI as Gonzalez was able to score.
Losing seven seniors to graduation, including Foothill League Player of the Year Davis Cop, means the Vikings will have to rely on the likes of Simonian, Weiss, Gonzalez and other players with varsity experience to lead the charge this year.
“It’s really big, we lost big leaders on and off the field. These guys have been on varsity, a lot of them since they’ve been sophomores, so they’ve learned from two different groups of seniors,” Killinger said. “It’s huge for them to step up and show the way to the next group, showing that next group where they have to go and how they can lead in the future.”
The Vikings utilized eight different pitchers in the contest, with each pitching an inning except for the fourth, when both Nick Lottermoser and Lane Farrell saw time on the mound.
Killinger wanted his bullpen to all get work as the Vikings prepare for the California Classic this weekend, where they will play four games in two days.
“All the guys who threw today will be relievers this weekend, trying to get them one inning of work,” he said. “We had four one, two, three innings, so there’s a lot of good stuff mixed in, just that one inning got away from us.”
The Vikings will face Dana Hills at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Valencia High School in the first of two games on Saturday. Valencia will round out the day against Tesoro at 4 p.m.