Vaqs: Three-Peat as Conference Champs?

Johnny Ruiz, Staff Writer

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The Vaqs baseball team was Western State-East Conference champs the last two years and expect to repeat as conference champs this year. They are moving along this season, stringing up four- to five-game win streaks powered by explosive offense and dynamic pitching.

In one four-game stretch from March 11-18 the Vaqs scored at least seven runs a game. They even went as far as to score 20 runs on March 11 against Victor Valley and 15 runs on March 14 against Barstow.

They are accomplishing this by focusing on the basics.

“Offensively our hitters didn’t try to do too much,” said Coach Chris Cicuto. “They let the game come to them, took their walks and singles and we were able to capitalize in the right spot. We had a bunch of guys deliver with two outs. Coach (Alex) Kocol and the Plasencia Brothers did an outstanding job with the running game and sending runners around the horn.”

Along with overpowering offense the pitching has been lights out. Pitchers have only allowed four runs once while allowing only one run in the games against Victor Valley and Barstow.

“The staff pitched with confidence, changed speeds and attacked hitters they were facing. They bought into Coach (Justin) Togeas’ pitch-calling and we didn’t give many free passes like we did versus Citrus,” said Cicuto.

The hot start came as Glendale entered a critical three-game series against Citrus through Saturday to determine number one in conference. Cicuto summed up the game plan this way: “Collect information, work on our skills in practice and make adjustments when the games start.”

Glendale showcased its winning ways in on March 18 against College of the Canyons

Cougars drew first blood scoring two runs in the bottom of the first. It seemed the Vaqs were their own worst enemy that inning, giving up the two runs with two outs thanks to an error by shortstop Grant Mona. The game went scoreless for an inning and the Vaqs were down. At the top of the third, the offense ignited and it was a steady flame for the rest of the game.

Frank Gariola smashed the ball over the fence with Thad Wilson on first. Then in the fifth, Grant Mona seemed determined to make up for his error and got a single, which led to him being brought in on a double by Frank Garriola, a single for Grant Mona and an RBI double for Frank Garriola – nothing but solid hitting for the Vaqs.

The Vaqueros added to their lead again in that inning on an RBI single up the middle by John Malott and with a RBI sacrifice fly by Cristian Montes.

The sixth rolled along and there was another blast over the fence by Bruno Teramoto. Again in the seventh Frank Garriola doubled to start off the inning and was brought in later by Cristian Montes. The Cougars had no response and failed to put up much of a match for the away team.  Final score: Glendale 7, Canyons 3.

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