Valencia comes back, beats West Ranch

STEVENSON RANCH -- Valencia’s Brian Mundell drilled a two-run double in the top of the seventh inning to break a 3-3 tie and give the Vikings a 5-3, come-from-behind victory over Foothill League rival West Ranch on Wednesday.

Mundell’s double capped a seventh-inning hit parade that produced two runs and provided the difference in a game between two of the top teams in league.

Trey Williams led off the inning with a single and Keston Hiura followed with another single to put runners on first and second with no outs.

That set the scene for Mundell to deliver in the clutch.

“He really adjusted from his first two at-bats, when he struggled,” Valencia coach Jared Snyder said. “He doesn’t put a lot of pressure on himself. He goes up there looking for his pitch. He just takes quality swings at all times. He loves that situation.”

Valencia (12-6) had to rally late in the game to erase a two-run deficit. West Ranch had a 3-1 lead in the third inning before the Vikings started scratching back in the game.

Valencia scored a run in the fourth to cut the West Ranch lead to one run. The Vikings scored again in the fifth inning to tie the score, 3-3.

Mundell knocked in the tying run on a groundout. He drove in three runs in the game despite striking out in his first two at-bats.

“Brian came up clutch,” Valencia centerfielder A.J. Balta said. “He got his pitch. He handled it. He did what he’s supposed to do with that pitch, outside, drive it the other way.”

Balta drove in Valencia’s first run with an RBI double in the first inning. The junior who committed to Oregon on Tuesday was 2-for-3 with a walk. He is latest in a long line of baseball players from Valencia who will continue their careers in college.

“I picked Oregon. They’re a great school,” Balta said. “They’ve been my No. 1 the whole time. As soon as I get there, I’m going to have a lot of fun, hopefully make a great impact on the team. They’re just a great school, a great coaching staff. I love the weather, I love the location. It’s great for the family.”

Williams is going to Pepperdine and Mundell has committed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Connor Chase is headed to Fresno State and Chris Gimenez chose Pacific University of Oregon.

Gimenez relieved Valencia starter J.D. Busfield in the second inning and kept the West Ranch bats in check the rest of the game.

“They got it done in the seventh,” West Ranch coach Casey Burrill said. “They got some big hits from some of their big guys. On our end, I thought we hit their starter well. We came out, had some good approaches at the plate. When they made their pitching change, their second arm kept us off balance all day. You tip your cap to that pitcher. He kept us off balance for the remainder of the game.”

West Ranch (11-7-1) took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run single by Tyler Woldanski. The Wildcats went up 3-1 in the second inning on an RBI single by Jagger Rusconi.

But Gimenez shut out West Ranch over the final 5 2/3 innings inducing three double plays to wiggle out of jams.

The two teams meet again on Friday for the final time in Foothill League play. Both teams are 5-3 in the Foothill League.

“This even up the series,” Burrill said. “Friday will be for the season series. It’s Friday. We need to come out and play some better baseball.”

West Ranch played against Valencia without J.C. Cloney, the team’s top hitter, with a .408 batting average and 13 RBIs, and one the staff’s best pitchers with a 5-1 record and a 1.26 ERA. He has tendinitis in his wrist and his return date is uncertain.