Fountain Valley High School's nine-inning, 7-5 victory over Westminster Friday at Westminster was as much a victory for opportunism as it was for the Barons' Sunset League record.
Fountain Valley twice took two-run leads only to see the Lions rally to tie, with the second rally coming in the bottom of the seventh. It took two extra innings for the Barons to finally overcome the Lions.
Fountain Valley, the defending CIF Southern Section 4-A champion, is a team that capitalizes on opponents' mistakes much more often than they make their own.
Commit an error against the Barons or let one of their pinch-hitters reach base and they will be only too happy to push across some runs. Westminster got caught doing that Friday, and it ultimately cost the Lions the game.
Fountain Valley Coach Tom DeKraai said that being a defending champion is somewhat misleading, considering that graduation hit the Barons heavily and that they have four juniors and a sophomore in the starting lineup. It should be one of those rebuilding seasons for the Barons (2-0-1 in league, 8-2-1 overall), but apparently somebody forgot to tell them that.
Playing like the opportunists who the rest of the league has come to respect, the Barons used two key hits by Rob Flinn to pull out the hard-earned victory.
With the score tied, 3-3, in the sixth inning, pinch-hitter Flinn hit a sinking liner to right field that fell just under the glove of a diving Johnny Tazza, scoring pinch-runner Jeff Reese from third base. Reese ran for Phil Sakelios after Sakelios had hit a one-out double and advanced to third on an infield error.
The Barons scored their second run of the inning on a wild pitch, and the 5-3 lead looked safe, but Westminster scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh on two singles, two walks, and an error.
In the ninth inning, it was Flinn, a junior, who again got the best of Westminster (2-1, 8-1). Flinn, who stayed in the game and played right field, opened the two-run inning with a single and eventually scoring the winning run.
"Robbie's an excellent hitter," DeKraai said. "He's our other starting pitcher and when he doesn't pitch, he's usually in the outfield. He hasn't been at the plate much because we wanted to remind him that he's a pitcher first and a hitter second, but that was a nice way to begin his (varsity) career."
In other Sunset League play:
Marina 9, Ocean View 4--The Vikings upset the Seahawks, ranked fourth in the Orange County Sportswriters Assn. poll, at Ocean View.
Edison 2, Huntington Beach 1 (11 innings)--The Chargers defeated the Oilers at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley.