By Ryan Menzie
For The Signal
Hart High baseball once again made it to the semifinals bracket, and once again came up just shy, losing 1-0 to Arlington in the state playoffs.
The end to the Indians’ run came down to tough play, said longtime Hart High head coach Jim Ozella.
“In the seventh inning, we were down 1 to nothing. We had runners in scoring position with one out but the pitcher came out and made the game-winning play coming off the mound and stopping the bunt,” said Ozella. “The whole scenario would have changed if the pitcher didn’t make that play. Regardless, we’re really proud of our efforts. It is nothing to hang our heads about. Obviously, it hurts when you’re that close but next year we just got to get better and try to improve.”
Ozella had to make early-game adjustments as the starting senior pitcher for the Indians (22-4, 14-1), Massimo Vega, suffered back spasms during warmups.
Vega came out and tried to play but gave up the only run of the game during his time on the mound. The relief senior pitcher, Jake Villar, came in and gave up zero runs with a few hits in his five innings of play.
Seniors Malachi Soqui and Eddie Tejada were saddened to end the season in a loss, but proud of the team’s accomplishments this season. Their junior year was cut short, so the opportunity to have a playoff was one they appreciated.
“We ran into a very good team. I’m happy with the way we fought hard because it kept us in the game,” said Soqui. “I would tell the team next year to enjoy the time you have. When we finally got to play, I appreciated it more than I ever have. I got to enjoy playing with my friends and I lived in the moment. Not everyone can play baseball and it can all be taken away.”
Both Soqui and Tejada plan to continue their baseball careers at the next level. Soqui plans on playing next season at MIT for his collegiate career, while Tejada also plans on playing next year for the University of Antelope Valley.
“Overall, it was a good game. I would say our offense was quiet, but it was a 1-0 ballgame, so it could’ve gone either direction,” said Tejada. “It was tough, especially since it was my last game at Hart, but I want the team next year to finish what we started. We had a lot of seniors on the team this year. I think each one of them did a good job and led by example and I expect the next guys to do just as well.”