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Little ball lifts Vista Murrieta to a first round playoff win

05/18/2013, 1:17am PDT
By Christopher Hadorn

Using little-ball tactics, Vista Murrieta stomps early on Irvine Beckman with a nine-run inning.

Photo by www.andrewfoulkphotography.com Vista Murrieta's .Ian Nowak, slides safe into second before Irvine Beckman's Michael Fuchs, can get the ball during the CIF Southern Section Division II first-round playoff game against Friday afternoon.

— With only four home runs on the season, Vista Murrieta coach Matt Mosiello knows his ballclub can’t sit back and wait for the three-run dinger.

So Mosiello has spent the better part of the season helping his Broncos master the art of little ball, which includes tactics such as bunting, slashing and the hit-and-run.

Vista Murrieta executed Mosiello’s style to success Friday by totaling 14 singles and only two extra-base hits in a high-scoring 13-8 triumph over Irvine Beckman in the first round of the Division II playoffs.

The Broncos face Redlands East Valley (23-4-1) in the second round Tuesday.

Trailing 2-0 after the top of the first inning, Vista Murrieta (17-10) shellshocked the visiting Patriots (22-7) with a nine-run avalanche in the bottom half of the frame. All eight hits in the inning were singles as the Broncos sent 13 batters to the plate. Vista Murrieta strung together six straight singles to start the game, which led to the immediate exit of Beckman starting pitcher Daniel Griese.

The first inning barrage included a hit-and-run single by Tyler Wilson, a bunt single by Ruben Ornelas and a sacrifice bunt from Alex Jaques.

Executing a slash play to perfection, Ian Nowak faked a bunt attempt, pulled his bat back, took a rip at a pitch and singled into right field for RBI single.

“We are just trying to be aggressive whenever we can,” Mosiello said. “The more pressure we can put on the defense, the better we will be.”

Another theme of the Broncos’ hit spree Friday was stroking the ball to center field. Ten of the Broncos’ 16 hits fell into center.

“That’s our main focus is usually up the middle,” said Joven Afenir, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored for the Broncos. “We don’t do any pull rounds. This whole week we did ‘oppo,’ opposite field hitting. I think that paid off today.”

The Broncos also exhibited aggressive baserunning throughout the game. Not only did Vista Murrieta tally four stolen bases, they had nine baserunners take the extra-base on either a wild pitch, a passed ball or a throwing error on a pickoff attempt.

Two of the Broncos’ runs were scored on wild-pitch plays.

“As far as balls in the dirt, that’s by far what we work on the most,” Afenir said. “Usually before we even throw, it’s the first thing we do. We stretch and go straight to baserunning.”

Despite not pitching to his high standards, Russell improved to 10-1 and picked up his 30th win of his high school career. The senior did not walk a batter, but was dinged for 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings.

“All year, Tyler has been our guy and has picked us up,” Mosiello said. “It was nice to see the kids pick up Tyler.”

Beckman fought back to close the gap to 12-8 after the top of the fifth, but Vista Murrieta freshman Jack Moberg slammed the door shut by pitching 2 2/3 shutout innings.

Moberg, whose older brother Jeff plays for the University of Tennessee, already can throw all three of his pitches ---- fastball, curveball, and changeup ---- for strikes.

“I tried not to overthink,” said Moberg of being thrown into a pressure packed game. “I just threw strikes.”

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