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PREP BASEBALL: Broncos bounce back, close in on crown

03/04/2013, 1:29pm PST
By BY LANDON NEGRI - lnegri@californian.com

MURRIETA -- Looking for a bounce-back type of performance, Tyler

MURRIETA -- Looking for a bounce-back type of performance, Tyler Russell gave his Vista Murrieta baseball team just the shove it needed.

Russell scattered five hits throughout a complete-game victory Friday afternoon, as the Broncos got back on the winning track with a 4-2 Southwestern League victory over visiting Great Oak.

Russell, just a sophomore, struck out seven and walked none in the victory, which came on the heels of Vista Murrieta's first league loss, to Great Oak, on Wednesday.

This time, outside of two right-field home runs by the Wolfpack's Austin Bailey, the Broncos were dominating.

"Fortunately, we haven't lost too many games," Vista Murrieta coach Kurt Ruth said. "When we have, though, we've been able to come back and win."

Much of that was because of Russell (6-1). With an ERA still less than 1.00, Russell mixed his fastball, curve and change-up with impressive precision during an 82-pitch outing that seemed to baffle Wolfpack hitters not named Bailey.

"The thing about him is he gets ahead early with strikes," Great Oak coach Eric Morton said. "He mixed it up today and did a really good job."

Said Russell: "We work on throwing any pitch at any time in the count. I just try to hit my spots and stay ahead of hitters."

The USD-bound Bailey wrapped two almost identical home runs around the right-field foul pole in the fourth and sixth innings.

"I just wish we had someone on base when he hit them," Morton joked. "But you know, Austin is a special kid. Everything he's gotten in terms of success and awards -- he's earned every one of those things."

Vista Murrieta (18-4, 10-1 Southwestern League) broke open a tight 1-0 game in the third inning. Jagade Snyder, Jeff Moberg and Holger Robalino all singled -- Robalino was on a bunt -- before Joe Ortuno reached and drove in a run on a flyball error. One batter later, Joven Afenir scored two on a right-field single for the four-run lead.

Great Oak (15-7-1, 5-6) did get the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh after pinch-hitter Zach Jemiola singled with one out. But Russell bore down, striking out Nick Fallone on a change-up and surviving Shane Gonzales' line-drive rip into an outfield out.

Wolfpack starter Kyle Davis wound up with the loss despite a respectable showing. He allowed two earned runs in six innings while striking out four.

The victory moved Vista Murrieta three games ahead of second-place Murrieta Valley with four to go. The Broncos play host to the Nighthawks on Wednesday before visiting Murrieta Valley on Friday.

"This is a great win," Russell said. "It gets us a lot of momentum for next week to go against Murrieta Valley."

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