Kirk Hainline has become a valuable commodity for Magnolia High School's baseball team this season.
Hainline, a right fielder, was pressed into the Sentinels' starting rotation two weeks ago after injuries hit the Magnolia pitching staff. The move seems to agree with Hainline as he gained his second win of the season Wednesday in an 11-2 rout over Valencia in Orange League play.
Hainline allowed a two-run home run to Andy Ruscitto in the first inning and then allowed only two hits in his next five innings before Sal Osuna finished in the seventh inning.
Hainline also provided all the offense the Sentinels needed with a run-scoring single in the fifth inning and a three-run homer over the center-field fence in the sixth. It was his second homer of the season, and he raised his batting average to .517.
"For four innings, Kirk was the only one playing for us," said Don Popovich, Magnolia coach. "He didn't have great stuff, but he battled them. It was a great effort from a No. 3 pitcher."
The Sentinels were coming off a disappointing 3-2 loss in nine innings to Western in their league opener and were being shut out through five innings before they exploded in the sixth for six runs.
Magnolia (1-1 in league and 5-3 overall) sent 10 batters to the plate, collecting five hits and two walks to turn the game around. Victor Banuelos had the key hit of the inning, driving a two-run double to the right-field fence.
Hainline's three-run homer highlighted a five-run inning for Magnolia in the sixth. The Sentinels had four doubles and a homer off three Tiger pitchers. Valencia is 1-1 and 4-2.
"We were walking a tightrope through five innings," said Kevin McConnell, Valencia coach. "We're not a very good team, and it showed from the fifth inning on."
The lone bright spot for Valencia was Ruscitto's blast over the right-field fence. It was his second homer this season and 15th of his career. Ruscitto has moved to catcher this season and he had problems behind the plate as the Sentinels stole four bases against him.