Hart baseball upsets Arlington in QF road battle 

Hart baseball celebrates its win over Newport Harbor on Tuesday. Photo Courtesy of Cole Franquiz Photography.

Hart Indians baseball continued its tear through the playoffs on Friday with another shutout win. 

The Indians took down the hosting Arlington Lions, 3-0, to punch Hart’s ticket into the CIF Southern Section Division 2 semifinals. 

Hart (24-5) again utilized the dynamic pitching combo of seniors Troy Cooper and Ian Edwards. 

Cooper went six and a third innings strong, cooling off the Lions’ bats all game long with 10 strikeouts and one walk. Hart coach Jim Ozella saw his ace turn up the heat and pitch one of his best outings of the season yet again in the playoffs. 

“We give him credit, he really unloaded it,” Ozella said in a phone interview. “He gave us all he could with two innings against Newport in relief and six and a third against Arlington. I’d say he really emptied the tank.” 

Cooper gave up two early hits and loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, getting himself in a similar jam that he faced at Newport Harbor. Cooper was dialed in and escaped the three-on, one-out jam with two huge strikeouts. 

At the plate Hart jumped out early with an RBI single from senior Eddie Gutierrez that scored third baseman Michael Hogen, who doubled to get on. 

The Indians doubled their lead in the third with an RBI single from Taj Brar that scored junior Brady Werther.  

Hart’s bats were ready for a tough one as Werther, Gutierrez, Brar and Jaiden Chathle all finished with a pair of hits. 

Chathle, Gutierrez and Hogen came up especially big for Hart, as the right-handed batters barreled the ball well against Arlington’s tough lefty pitching. 

“This time of the year you have to have a plan and you gotta execute your plan,” Ozella said. “I thought we did a good job offensively. A lot of our right handers hurt their lefties, which is kind of what we’re hoping they would do.”  

Cooper kept the Lion bats cooled off going into the seventh as he was running on fumes. Ozella called upon his closer Edwards to finish the job. The sidearm sensation made quick work of his only two opponents en route to the save. Edwards retired the final two Lion batters, with two runners on, in just six pitches to put Hart back in the semifinals for the first time in three years. 

Hart has now won nine in a row, with three shutouts in three of its last four games. The Indians will finally return home for their final CIF SS home game, as Hart takes on the Arcadia Apaches (22-7). 

Arcadia, the Pacific League champs, have been led all year by the strong pitching duo of Gabriel Lopez and Fernando Palencia. 

Lopez led the team with 11 strikeouts and just one earned run in the team’s quarterfinal win over Westlake, so Hart will likely take on the San Diego commit Palencia, who holds a 1.36 ERA and 108 strikeouts on the season. 

“Arcadia is another challenge,” Ozella said. “We played them in the fall and in the winter and being upfront and honest, they beat us up pretty bad. That wasn’t one of our highlighted games, we didn’t play very well. It was a tough place to play but we get to play them at home on Tuesday.”  

Hart hosts Arcadia on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. 

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