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March 10, 2013Elk Grove used a complete game shutout from senior David Smith to knock off Valley Christian 4-0 on Saturday.
"It's a good win," said Elk Grove head coach Jeff Carlson. "We're on the road playing a great program in Valley Christian. [Valley Christian Head] Coach [John] Diatte does a great job with these guys and they were ready to come out. They got beat last night so they came out with a lot of fire. They were coming after us. It was a solid game, both pitchers did a great job. We were just able to execute late in the game in the crucial situations and that's what got us ahead and led to the victory."
The game started as a pitcher's duel between Smith and Valley Christian junior Ben Hughes, but the Herd finally got on the board in the fifth inning. A two-out rally resulted in three straight hits to load the bases. Sophomore second baseman Carlos Moseley came through in the next at-bat with a double that plated two runs before an out at home.
Elk Grove added two more runs in the seventh inning after a similar situation. Dylan Carlson started the inning with a single followed by two bunts for hits. This time it was sophomore shortstop Nick Madrigal who had the clutch base hit for a pair of RBIs.
On the mound, the 6-foot-4 Smith tossed a complete game four-hitter for the Herd. He threw 94 pitches, with 64 for strikes, and fanned five hitters.
"He was throwing strikes," Carlson said of Smith. "He pounded the zone, he was able to move his fastball in and out, he's able to throw his off speed for a strike when he needed to, get ground balls, and use the defense behind him. We play great defense behind him and that was the key."
One standout defensive play occurred in the first inning from centerfielder Derek Hill, who made a diving catch in the gap to rob a hit for extra bases. It likely saved a run, as a runner was on first base.
Pac-12 bound teammates Ryan Tellez (USC) and Dom Nunez (UCLA) did not notch a hit, but the 6-7-8-9 hitters for Elk Grove combined for a 5-for-12 performance.
"What got us going was really the 6-7-8-9," Carlson added. "They're the ones who got the crucial hits and got us going early and that's what we're looking for. We know the 1-2-3-4-5 guys are going to hit, they're going to hit every game. Some days they're going to struggle and they're not going to get pitches, but we need those guys behind them to hit. I thought we did a great job of doing that, getting guys on base, getting our bunts down, and doing the small things today that helped us out."
For Valley Christian, Hughes had a nice performance despite the four-hit, two-run fifth inning. In his first four innings of work, he was only one batter over the minimum. He didn't overpower hitters, but located pitches well and forced seven groundouts.
Valley Christian dropped their second straight game to a Sacramento based team after they lost to Jesuit on Friday. The Warriors fell to 5-3 and will face Mitty on Tuesday. Valley Christian beat Mitty 3-2 earlier this month.
Elk Grove improved to 3-0 on the season. The Herd will travel to St. Mary's (Stockton) on Tuesday, Campolindo on March 16th, and Oak Ridge on March 19th. All three teams are ranked in the NCP Top 20.
"Anytime you pick up a quality win against a quality program, it's great," Carlson finished. "It's great for our moral and it's great to get us going where we need to get. That's why we play guys like Valley Christian because it's only going to make us better - win or lose. Hats off to David Smith, he came out and shoved it today. He's our senior, he's our guy, and that's what we get out of him every time he goes out there. He once again had a great performance for us right down until the end."