High School Baseball: Fountain Valley edges Marina to remain atop Sunset League

HUNTINGTON BEACH — The lead in the Sunset League baseball race was on the line Thursday when Fountain Valley faced Marina, and it was a line that both the Barons and Vikings did tread precariously.

In the end, Fountain Valley was able to reach the finish, and that allowed the visiting Barons to maintain sole possession of first place.

Fountain Valley trailed early but managed to fight back to grab the lead in the top of the sixth inning, then held on for a 3-2 victory. The Barons used a few, big defensive stops, and got out of a jam in the bottom of the seventh, to turn back the Vikings.

The win put Fountain Valley at 5-0 at the end of the first round of the league season. Marina, which dropped its second-straight, one-run game in three days, slipped to 3-2.

The Vikings lost, 3-2, on Shaun Vetrovec's two-run walk-off home run Tuesday at Newport Harbor.

The Barons, who defeated rival Edison, 6-1 on Tuesday, own a two-game lead over the rest of the Sunset pack heading into spring break.

"Any cushion you get in the Sunset League, you're fortunate to have," Fountain Valley Coach Deric Yanagisawa said. "It can be lost in the blink of an eye. There are a lot of good teams in this league and every game is a battle.

"This was a typical Sunset League game. Marina played really well and I tip my cap to [Austin] Olivas who pretty much dominated the game. We came through, though, when we needed to."

Olivas, who went the distance for Marina, turned in another strong performance. The left-handed senior (3-1) scattered six hits, struck out six, and walked one.

"Austin is an A-1, quality starter," Marina Coach Bob Marshall said. "I thought he did a great job today.

"I tip my hat to them. That is a well-coached team, a disciplined team. We had to be just as disciplined, in order for us to succeed today. We went outside our game plan, though."

Fountain Valley (11-1), ranked fourth in CIF Southern Section Division 1, went in front to stay in the top of the sixth. With two outs and runners at the corners, Olivas' 0-2 pitch to the Barons' Justin Brand was low and went off the glove of Marina catcher Landon Marshall. The ball trickled toward the Marina dugout, and the slow roller allowed Dillon Persinger to score from third base for what turned out to be the winning run.

Olivas got Brand to pop out to the mound on the next pitch for the third out.

One of the Barons' key defensive stops came in the bottom-half of the sixth, with Marina threatening. Bryan Perez hit a lead-off single, which prompted Yanagisawa to remove Fountain Valley senior starter Monty Plattner and insert sophomore J.T. Cobb. Perez then was sacrificed to second on a fielder's choice bunt by Max Willingham.

With two outs, Jake Arledge sent a deep fly ball to left field which appeared to be dropping inside the foul line. The ball never hit the turf. That's because Barons left fielder Dan Rosica raced to his right and made a diving catch for the third out.

It was one of two big plays in left field by Rosica.

Two other huge stops were turned in at third base by Brand one of which he came up with in the bottom of the fifth with the score tied 2-2.

Marina was looking to take the lead when it loaded the bases with two outs, but Brand dove and hit the ground to snag a sharp grounder hit over the third base bag by the Vikings' Grant Mayeaux. Brand stretched to place the ball on the bag to force the third out and get the Barons out of a big jam.

"Their third baseman [Brand] makes two diving plays, and their left-fielder [Rosica] makes two diving plays. Those balls fall, and the score swings the other way," Bob Marshall said. "They made some really big plays today."

Marina (7-5) again threatened in the bottom of the seventh with the meat of their lineup coming to the plate, but again, couldn't score.

Tyler Mildenberg opened with a single up the middle but Jake Bauers, on his first pitch from Cobb, popped up to first base, then Austin Sojka grounded out to second base for the second out. Sojka's grounder did move Mildenberg to second, and Landon Marshall drew a full-count walk, to put the go-ahead run at first. Cobb fell behind on a 2-0 count to Mayeaux, worked his way back to a full count, then caught Mayeaux looking for the third strike which ended the game.

Cobb earned his fourth save of the year. Plattner, who gave up seven hits, got the win and is now 6-0.

"I told him to throw the same pitch he had been throwing," Yanagisawa said of Cobb's final pitch, a fastball. "He hit his spot."

Marina took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI sacrifice fly by Sojka. Fountain Valley (11-1) grabbed its first lead, 2-1, in the top of the fifth on an RBI triple by Jordan Lucio and a fly out by to deep left field by John Shattles that scored Lucio from third.

Marina drew even in the bottom of the fifth when Mildenberg's single to center field scored Austin Moore, who started the rally with a lead-off single.

Daniel Patzlafff went two for three to pace the Fountain Valley offense. Mildenberg went three for four and Sojka had two hits for Marina.

Both teams will enter spring break tournament play this weekend. Fountain Valley plays host to Campolindo at 11 a.m. and Long Beach Millikan at 2 p.m. on the opening day of the Anaheim Lions Tournament. Marina takes on Tustin at 10 a.m. in an opening game at the Ryan Lemmon Invitational.


Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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