By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
After falling to the Wildcats 12-9 last week, Saugus baseball downed the hosting West Ranch 3-2 on Thursday.
The summer squads were filled with new faces as two of the senior-heavy teams from this past season clashed.
The Centurions broke open the game in the top of the fifth with three straight RBI doubles to take a 3-1 lead.
Anthony Gonzalez, Mason Maher and James Frias all hit solid shots into the outfield, bringing in the eventual game-winning runs.
Saugus was led by catcher Jason Zepeda, the only player in the game with multiple hits, with two.
Both teams were moving around their few returners from last season in case they may need to take on a new position next year. Each team will need to fill the hole of star catchers, with West Ranch being tasked with replacing Foothill League Co-Player of the Year Logan Mandel. Incoming senior Ty DePerno looked solid in his few innings behind the plate while Zepeda is off to a solid start behind the plate, filling the shoes of Michael DeSantiago.
“We have a lot of guys who are competing for spots,” said West Ranch coach Ryan Lindgreen. “Nothing is locked down so it’s a lot of fun to watch those guys get their opportunities and hopefully we can improve before our next game.”
The Wildcats used a flurry of pitchers, including Ryan Oh, who finished with a game-high three strikeouts.
West Ranch senior center fielder Brett Potter also took on an inning of work on the mound and threw one of two perfect Wildcat innings.
The Wildcats managed to get within one run in the bottom of the sixth after Zach Wyre hit an RBI single.
Even though both teams are just a few games into figuring out what their varsity teams will look like in eight months, the coaches are pleased with their lower-level players coming up to varsity.
“So far, I do like what I have seen,” said Centurion head coach Carl Grissom. “Obviously we have a lot of work to do but so far I’m pleased with where we’re at. We have a long way to go until next year but we’re off to a good start.”
Saugus has played just three games in summer but the team has played well. The Centurions put up seven runs in their loss to the Wildcats before handling Burbank and their West Ranch rematch, giving the team a little momentum before they head into competitive Valley Invitational Baseball League action.
The incoming players Zepeda, Gonzalez, Maher and Frias may wind up being strong factors for the Saugus varsity team. Grissom will still rely on Arizona commit Zach Plasschaert and Erik Polanco to lead and develop their younger teammates.
The Wildcats will also stay busy for the summer with a handful of tournaments and summer games with some quality opponents.
Last season West Ranch’s junior varsity baseball team finished 11-10-2 while the freshman team finished 15-9.
Key pieces from these teams like Landon Hu, Mikey Murr and Jake Vojtech may join the pitching staff with reigning Pitcher of the Year Jackson Banuelos.
“I’m excited,” said Lingreen. “I think we have a really fun, hungry group and hopefully we can start putting those building blocks in place now.”