Valencia baseball beats Saugus 

Valencia catcher Aiden Voyles (66) makes the tag at home on Saugus baserunner Kaden Haag (1) in the sixth inning at Valencia High on Wednesday, 031324. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Valencia Vikings baseball rode a hot start to victory on Wednesday over the visiting Saugus Centurions. 

The Centurions struck first but the Vikings were able to rally early and never lost their lead after the bottom of the first inning.  

Valencia notched its first Foothill League win of the year, winning the game 5-2, behind some solid bunting, pitching and defense. 

Valencia junior Lincoln Hunt tied the score in the first inning with a sacrifice fly and later hit an RBI single in his 1-for-2, two-RBI day.  

Lincoln Hunt (1) of Valencia celebrates on first base after hitting an RBI single in the second inning against Saugus at Valencia High on Wednesday, 031324. Dan Watson/The Signal

Junior Noah Jaquez then brought in another run in the first inning with a big RBI single to left field. 

The Vikings (5-6-1, 1-2) have had a few hot starts this season but coach Brad Meza hadn’t seen one in a handful of games. 

“(The hot starts have) been here and there and lately it hasn’t been here,” Meza said. “It’s good to see, after an early drag, guys putting barrels and finally finding some real estate.” 

Saugus senior Gio Garfalo smacked the third Saugus (3-8, 2-1) hit of the first inning and brought in leadoff man Dominick Zambrano. Garfalo’s RBI single scored the first Saugus run against Valencia in three years. 

Senior Brady Yeaman was just off from Saugus’ first home run of the year but his deep shot bounced off the right field wall. The Centurions added one more run in the third inning and threatened to score multiple times. However, Valencia’s pitching and defense was key in stranding eight Centurion base runners on the day. 

Vikings sophomore Justin Gaisford was solid and finished the day with six hits, two earned runs, three strikeouts and just one walk through his five innings on the mound.  

Gaisford was steady and even turned up the heat toward the end of his five innings, where he retired seven straight Saugus batters. 

Valencia senior Michael Mair was nearly perfect in relief and allowed just one hit in his two-inning close. 

Valencia pitcher Michael Mair (11) fields a ground ball and makes the throw to first base for the second out of the seventh inning against Saugus at Valencia High on Wednesday, 031324. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Seeing Mike come in and absolutely shove put a big smile on my face because he’s worked at it,” Meza said. “He became a pitcher probably a year and a half ago and he’s ran with it. He’s ran with it and he’s owning it.’ 

Saugus sent out senior ace Wesley Yim to the bump. Yim gave up nine hits, five earned runs with just one extra-base hit and one walk. 

“He’s pitched four complete games now,” said Centurions coach Carl Grissom. “He hasn’t been on the other end of a lot of wins, but he’s really just kept us in games and that’s all you can ask for as a coach. He’s a bulldog so I never waver when he’s out there.” 

Yim’s only extra-base hit came off the barrel of Valencia nine-hole hitter Wyatt Murphy. The senior brought in catcher Aiden Voyles with an RBI triple that scored Valencia’s fifth run of the game in the sixth. 

“(Murphy’s) been struggling as of late,” Meza said. “He’s worked a lot, some time in, worked on the swing and got it done. His hard work is showing off so it’s good to see him get back into it and start swinging the bat a lot better.” 

Wyatt Murphy (12) of Valencia rounds second after hitting an RBI triple in the sixth inning against Saugus at Valencia High on Wednesday, 031324. Dan Watson/The Signal

Murphy finished the game 2-for-3. 

Both teams entered the series looking for more from their offenses. Grissom was sure his team could turn things around in league play despite their 0-7 start and the Centurions did just that against Canyon. 

“I don’t feel like we’re where we need to be,” Grissom said. “But from the beginning of the season against Birmingham to now, it’s a lot better there. There’s some guys that are still kind of searching and haven’t figured it out quite yet, but I think they’re going to come around. If we have the majority of the guys where they need to be then I think we’re trending in the right direction.” 

Saugus will hunt for its first win over Valencia in three seasons in round two on Friday at 3:30 p.m. 

“I just love this group, they’re becoming my favorite groups,” Grissom said. “I enjoy coming to practice. I’m excited because they’re excited and after today’s loss, they were visibly angry and that’s great. That’s what we want. They’re upset that they lost, they know what they did wrong and they can’t wait to come out on Friday and play.” 

Saugus infielders Derek Hughes (2) and Brady Yeaman (27) makes the out on Valencia baserunner Matthew Moffitt (31) in the second inning at Valencia High on Wednesday, 031324. Dan Watson/The Signal
Noah Jaquez (44) of Valencia hits an RBI single in the first inning against Saugus at Valencia High on Wednesday, 031324. Dan Watson/The Signal
Valencia pitcher Justin Gaisford (14) pitches against Saugus at Valencia High on Wednesday, 031324. Dan Watson/The Signal
Lincoln Hunt (1) of Valencia calls for the ball and makes the catch for the third out of the fourth inning against Saugus at Valencia High on Wednesday, 031324. Dan Watson/The Signal
Valencia short stop Wyatt Murphy (12) backhands a line drive in the first inning against Saugus at Valencia High on Wednesday, 031324. Dan Watson/The Signal

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