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Vigilantes’ Victory Is Wet and Wild

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

There was a feeling of frivolity, not seen too often this season, among many of the Vigilantes who had a water balloon fight after Sunday’s game.

The reason for the light-hearted behavior was simple--the team played well to beat Tri-City, 4-2, in a Western League baseball game Sunday at Saddleback College.

“We needed a lift,” said winning pitcher Mike Smith, who gave up three hits and two runs in eight-plus innings.

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Smith, a right-hander, stopped an interview for a moment so designated hitter Eric Brooks could smash a water balloon on his head rather than lurk in the background until Smith finished talking.

Smith (2-1 in five starts) retired the first 13 batters he faced until Ryan Seidel, who played at Southern California College, lined a single to right field.

“I spotted my fastball well,” Smith said, “and I mixed up my pitches and that really helped me.”

Smith got eight more in a row before Seidel singled up the middle to start the eighth. Smith finished with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Smith walked Shawn Scott to start the ninth and gave up a triple to Ruben Cardona before being removed.

“I wanted to finish it badly,” he said. “But I felt like I hit the wall [in the ninth]. After that triple I was done. It was time to get the closer.”

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Kirk Kishita came in to get three consecutive groundouts--Cardona scored on the first one--for his fourth save.

Besides solid pitching, the Vigilantes (10-12) also got timely hitting from third baseman Sean Drinkwater, center fielder Lonny Stare and right fielder Sam Taylor.

Stare, who returned to the lineup Saturday after missing 15 games because of a shoulder injury, hit a two-run homer in the fourth to give the Vigilantes a 3-0 lead.

“It was a fastball about belt high,” Stare said. “I didn’t hit it great, but I hit it just long enough.”

Drinkwater, who entered the game batting .173, singled to right in his first at-bat.

He then drove in the first run of the game when he lined a sharp single to left to score Brooks. He reached first on a throwing error, was sacrificed to second and took third on a balk.

Taylor drove in the final run and also took over the team lead in home runs with a blast over the right-field fence in the seventh. It was his sixth homer this season.

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The Vigilantes announced that 3,650 tickets were sold for the game but attendance was at least 600 fewer than that because an area Little League bought that many tickets but didn’t distribute any, Vigilante officials said.

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