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May 20, 2009 > Newark Memorial's bats power them to MVAL title

Newark Memorial's bats power them to MVAL title

By Gary van den Heuvel

Newark Memorial's baseball team slugged their way to two wins and the championship of the MVAL playoffs, posting a total of 23 runs in their victories over Mission San Jose in the semifinal and James Logan in the final.

Newark entered the four-team tournament as the top seed, following an extra-inning win over Irvington in a one-game playoff on May 9, a day after Irvington claimed a share of the MVAL title in the final game of the regular season by beating the Cougars on Newark's home field.

Second-seeded Irvington's highly anticipated shot at a rematch with Newark in the finals never materialized due to the Vikings' shocking 6-3 loss to Logan in the semis.

The Vikings' potent bats went dormant as the third-seeded Colts built a 6-0 lead through the first four innings, powered by Pascual Flores's first-inning solo homerun, centerfielder Andrew Rodriguez's two hits, 2 RBIs and two runs scored, and Jon Peters' 2-3, 1 RBI performance.

Irvington's late-inning rallies fell short and Logan, a team that had gone 2-10 outside the MVAL, but 8-4 in league games, and a team that Irvington had beaten twice during the season - including a 15-0 pasting on May 6 - found themselves in the final against mighty Newark Memorial.

Newark's road to the final was much less surprising - a 10-2 rout of fourth seed Mission. Newark's two big guns, Cody Zimmerman (3-4, 2 doubles, 2 runs scored) and Anthony Sao (2-2, 2 RBIs) led the way for the Cougars.

It was those two players who started the offensive juggernaut for Newark in the May 15 final. After Zimmerman singled and stole second base, Sao crushed a home run with two out in the first inning to start the scoring.

Logan tied the score in the top of the second when Peters and Daniel Rodriguez, after back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, both scored by virtue of some shaky Newark defense. Newark's freshman pitcher Chris Flexen, who was named the starting pitcher just moments before the game when scheduled starter Ryan Deeter was scratched, put out the fire and from there kept the Logan offense relatively harmless as his teammates scored four runs in the third inning, five in the fifth and two more in the sixth for a 13-5 result.

Five Cougars scored two runs each: Sao (who hit a double along with his first-inning dinger), Deeter (after being replaced as the starting pitcher, he was moved to third base and had two hits including a double, a walk and an RBI), catcher Bobby Neves (2 hits, including a double and his first homerun of the year, 3 RBIs), Zimmerman and Grayson Hudgens (1-3 with 1 RBI).

With a 22-6 record, Newark advances to the NCS playoffs, and their first game is Tuesday May 15 against San Ramon Valley (13-11). Irvington (19-6) also has another lifeline, as they were accepted as an at-large team; they face Deer Valley (Antioch, 18-6 record) also on Tuesday.

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