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Valencia's Shane Zeile relaxes and walks off a hero with home run against Hart

Zeile's homer with two out in the bottom of the ninth gives the Valencia Vikings a 9-8 victory over Newhall Hart in a Foothill League game.

March 30, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

The pressure was on, so Valencia shortstop Shane Zeile decided to take two deep breaths.

"In those situations, you have to be able to tame your nerves because nerves are a big part of this game," he said. "One mistake can cost your team. One home run, you're the hero."

On Wednesday, in the bottom of the ninth inning of a wild Foothill League game, Zeile hit a two-out 2-and-0 pitch over the fence in right field to give the Vikings a 9-8 victory over Newhall Hart.

"When I saw it hit the scoreboard, I was ecstatic," he said. "I started jumping up and down. It's one of the greatest moments thus far."

Bedlam erupted around home plate as Valencia players charged out of the dugout to greet Zeile, a senior shortstop who also contributed two doubles on a day each team used four pitchers and had many opportunities to win.

Valencia (7-1, 3-0) opened a 5-0 lead after three innings and seemed to be cruising to victory behind pitcher Nick Rivas, who had five strikeouts and was showing off an exceptional curveball. But Hart (9-2, 3-1) put together consecutive hits by Luke Persico, Dallas Bacon and Alex Tenorio to start the fourth and scored four runs. The Indians kept battling and finally took their first lead at 8-7 with three runs in the top of the seventh, including run-scoring singles from Baggio Saldivar and Daniel Dietz.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed Valencia's overall record as 7-2.

But Valencia pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh when James Bonds had a run-scoring single on a two-out 3-and-2 count.

David Hausman, a rarely used pitcher for Valencia, threw scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth to set the stage for Zeile, a UCLA signee whose father, Mike, was a standout player for Hart in the 1980s. Zeile's uncle, Todd, played for Hart and UCLA and was with 11 teams in the major leagues.

"I've been working on staying calm," Zeile said. "I'm usually nervous. Today I felt great."

The game was full of action and suspense. Hart had a player thrown out at the plate trying to score in the fourth. Valencia's Parker Greenberg had three bunt singles. Hart's Steve Rosso used a wood bat to execute a successful squeeze bunt. There was a dropped fly ball that was turned into a force play. There was a dropped fly ball that became a double.

"There were a lot of chances to get a W," Hart Coach Jim Ozella said.

The two schools get to play each other twice more this season.

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