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Valencia finds way to end Cypress streak
PLACENTIA - If Valencia coach Joe Secoda had known that his team would muster just two hits against Cypress on Friday, he might have expected a bad outcome.
But thanks to six walks and five hit batters by the Cypress pitching staff, the Tigers were able to scrape across just enough runs for a 5-3 victory in an Empire League game at Valencia High.
“I wish we could have taken a little more advantage of some of those free passes and score some more runs,” Secoda said. “With their offense, no lead is big enough. For their staff, which is so good, to miss like that, maybe we had some higher powers helping us out today.”
The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for Cypress (16-9, 5-1) and put the Tigers (14-12, 4-2) just one game behind in the league standings.
Most of the Centurions’ erratic pitching happened in the first inning. The Tigers did not get a hit yet scored twice thanks to three walks and two hit batters.
Valencia starting pitcher Vicente Guzman retired the first nine batters he faced to maintain the lead heading into the fourth inning.
Guzman pitched five innings and gave up two runs on three hits, working quickly and inducing six ground ball outs to keep the defense engaged.
“He threw strikes, commanded the zone and got ahead,” Secoda said. “His last couple outings, he’d been falling behind a little bit, but today he had a little bit better rhythm. We played a little bit better defense, and we played really well.”
After Cypress tied the score in fourth inning with a two-run double by Brandon Alamo, the Tigers regained the lead with two runs in the fifth.
Dominic Fletcher hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth to make it 4-3, but Valencia tacked on a run in the bottom of the sixth and held Cypress scoreless in the seventh to preserve the win.
First baseman Jordan Jenkins provided most of the offense for the Tigers, with two hits, a run scored and a run batted in.
“He’s really stepped up in his senior year,” Secoda said. “He’s pitched really well and plays a good first base. At the plate, he’s done really well for us. He’s not the prototypical fourth hitter where he’s going to drive balls out of the yard, but he just has quality at-bats, and we’re really proud of him.”
Valencia was able to bounce back from a tough loss to Cypress, 8-7, in extra innings Wednesday.
“Being able to be resilient and bounce back shows the character of these guys,” Secoda said. “Getting a win against Cypress could possibly be the difference between second, third or maybe even a playoff spot.”
Also in the Empire League:
Kennedy 7, Western 0: Jerrett Velez limited the Pioneers to three hits over six innings as the Fighting Irish (9-14, 3-3) won at Western.
Tim Olson, Dillon Paningsoro and Leif Okerlund each drove in two runs for Kennedy.