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ROUNDUP

Slam by Valaika Shuts the Door on Valencia, 8-4

April 07, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER

Sophomore shortstop Chris Valaika of Hart High broke his elbow last season, forcing him to spend much of the spring on the sideline watching and learning from teammate Bill Susdorf how to perform in pressure situations.

On Friday, Valaika came through with a seventh-inning grand slam that gave Hart an 8-4 victory over Valencia in a Foothill League game at Valencia.

"I love those situations," Valaika said.

Valencia (8-6, 3-4 in league play) tied the score, 4-4, in the sixth on consecutive home runs by Richie Martin and freshman Matt Aidem.

But the Indians (14-0, 7-0) loaded the bases in the seventh against reliever Kyle Wilson (3-2), sending up Valaika, the No. 9 hitter.

With Susdorf, who had three hits, in the on-deck circle Wilson had no choice but to pitch to Valaika, who sent a 1-and-0 pitch over the center-field fence.

Susdorf was brought in to pitch the final inning and struck out the side to complete Hart's 18th consecutive victory over Valencia since the series began in 1996.

"I like the way they compete and battle for seven innings," Hart Coach Jim Ozella said. "It was a good challenge and I'm glad we rose to the challenge."

Center fielder Mike Miller of Hart robbed Martin of a home run in the second inning with a leaping catch above the fence.

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