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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Hart Has Valencia's Number

High school baseball: It's 17-0 after Susdorf halts rally and saves Indians again, 5-4.

April 04, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEWHALL — One day, Valencia High is going to defeat Hart in a baseball game. The Vikings can't keep losing forever, right?

They came close on Tuesday before losing, 5-4, in a Foothill League game at Hart.

The Vikings are 0-17 since the series began in 1996 and it was only the second time Valencia has come within one run of the Indians.

Danny Braun did his best to give Hart (13-0, 6-0 in league play) a scare, contributing three of Valencia's four hits. He had a double, home run and run-scoring triple.

Valencia fans were making lots of noise in the sixth inning when the Vikings had none out, two runners aboard and the tying run at the plate.

The only problem was UCLA-bound Bill Susdorf came in to pitch.

Susdorf hasn't blown a save in two years as a reliever. He had a school-record 10 saves last season and thrives on fans trying to rattle him.

He proceeded to get a strikeout, fly out and ground out to end Valencia's threat.

In the seventh, Braun's two-out triple and an error pushed across two runs, but Susdorf picked up his third save when Joey Morelli, batting .556, grounded out to end the game.

"They walk onto the field with an aura," Coach Jared Snyder of Valencia said of the Indians. "They truly believe they can't lose no matter what the score, what the inning, what the count."

The schools play again on Friday at Valencia, with ace Kyle Wilson expected to pitch for the Vikings (8-5, 3-3).

He has improved so much that UCLA gave him a scholarship, something Susdorf is happy about because they're friends. But on Friday, they'll be staring at each other.

"I'm going to try to hit him," Susdorf said.

Hart continues to be the dominant team in the Foothill League not only because of Susdorf, last season's Times Valley player of the year.

Senior first baseman Chris Gagnon is having a dream season. His run-scoring double during a four-run fourth inning gave Hart the lead for good. He raised his batting average to .567, a dramatic improvement over last season's .316.

"He's been executing," Coach Jim Ozella said. "He's one of a number of guys who have made sacrifices to be team guys, and by doing that, they've become more successful."

One of those "team guys" is senior catcher Nick Enciso, who broke his neck as a sophomore in a snowboarding accident, was a reserve last season and is batting .467 this year. He had a single and run-scoring double against Valencia.

"There's some magic with our team," he said.

There's magic whenever Chris Giordano is at-bat with men on base. He has 15 hits this season and picked up his team-leading 18th run batted in.

Phil Tognetti (6-0) allowed one earned run and two hits in five-plus innings.

The Indians have an earned-run average of 1.40.

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