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Valley Christian takes two from Cerritos behind Garcia’s one-hitter in nightcap

By Loren Kopff

After the Cerritos and Valley Christian baseball teams put on a hitting display in the first game of a doubleheader last Friday night, the offense was nearly nonexistent for the second game. V.C. freshman Brett Garcia, in his fourth start of the season, turned in a masterpiece as he one-hit the Dons in a 1-0 victory.

The Crusaders won the first game 9-7 but it was all Garcia in the nightcap, outdueling senior Jacob Carter, who also was brilliant, tossing a two-hit complete game.

“For him to be a freshman and have that poise and confidence, I can’t say enough of him,” said V.C. head coach Michael Dunk. “I know going into the sixth inning, he was at a high pitch count and he just came in after he had finished the sixth inning and said, ‘coach, I want one more inning. I have enough left in me to finish this off’.”

Garcia avoided a first inning deficit when he hit senior shortstop Aaron Hinds, who stole second and third. But Garcia struck out senior first baseman Justin Fujii and got junior designated hitter Nick Sur to ground out. Garcia would work a perfect second and third before Hinds singled to left center to begin the fourth.

Again, he escaped damage after hitting Sur and Carter with two outs when he got junior right fielder Jason Prieto to fly out to center. Garcia would allow four more runners over the final three innings with none getting past second base. He finished the game striking out seven and throwing 118 pitches.

But Carter was almost as good, striking out four, walking four and throwing 88 pitches for his fifth straight complete game among his eight starts. Carter got out of a second and third with none out situation in the bottom of the first and had a runner thrown out at home with two outs in the third after a double to right field from senior second baseman Tyler Radecki.

But in the fourth inning, V.C. broke the ice when Carter walked senior shortstop Kevin Sainz with one out. Sainz then went to second on an error and to third on a Garcia single to left. Moments later, Garcia would be caught stealing second but in the process, Sainz came home for the game’s only run. Carter would walk two more batters with another reaching on a fielder’s choice over the final two frames.

“He was lights out,” said Cerritos co-head coach Brooks Walling. “He gave up two hits and they score the only run on a first and third [situation]. We took the out and you have to score runs to win. I tip my hat off to the freshman over there. He did a hell of a job.

“I would say it’s one of his best games,” Walling later added. “He had good command of all three pitches today, in and out plus velocity on his fastball. The senior stepped up for us and gave us a chance to win.”

“We came into this [doubleheader] and I was expecting Jacob Carter, who I’ve known for a long time, to throw the first game and they surprised me saying, ‘no, we’re going to throw him under the lights’,” Dunk said. “I knew we were in for an incredible pitching matchup tonight.”

In the opener, both teams combined for 26 hits in a tilt between two of the area’s most offensive teams. The Crusaders took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third on a two-out, bases-clearing double from senior Aaron Kirchner. After the Dons closed the gap to a run in the fourth inning, the hosts took a 7-2 lead highlighted by a two-run double from junior Jarod Trader.

Cerritos rallied back to score twice in the fifth on run scoring singles from Sur and Prieto and one more in the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Hinds. But V.C. iced the game in the sixth when junior Jesse Smith singled with one out and scored on an error. Trader then doubled and scored on a two-bagger from sophomore R.J. VanKampen.

“We were just sitting on the fastball,” Dunk said. “We saw a lot of fastballs, so we got aggressive and went early in the count. Rosenberg pitched excellent; we made some of his good pitches into good at-bats for us and we were able to capitalize and move guys over.”

Trader went two for two while Sainz and VanKampen each went two for three. Senior Jack Striuksma worked five innings to pick up with fourth win.

Prieto went four for four and Sur went three for four as the Dons had 16 hits, the third most this season and the fifth time they have had at least 10 hits in a game.

“I wish we could put a game together,” Walling said. “The first game we came out lights out. We had a base running blunder and they capitalized on it. They had two big hits where they cleared the bases twice. We [just] came up short.”

Cerritos hosted Bellflower this past Wednesday and will visit the Buccaneers today before travelling to John Glenn on Wednesday. The Crusaders (14-6 overall, 3-2 in the Olympic League) would lose to Heritage Christian 10-3 this past Tuesday and will face the Knights on the road today before travelling to Village Christian on Tuesday.

“I want to be here than 5-14,” Dunk said of his record following the Cerritos game. “We have a lot to play for. Our 14-5 record does show how well we’re performing. But the Olympic League is a tough league. We know that Heritage [Christian] is not an easy opponent even though they are 1-5.”