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CCS baseball: Valley Christian one win from Open repeat

SAN JOSE — Valley Christian coach John Diatte huddled his players briefly before they departed Municipal Stadium on Tuesday.
“We’ve worked all year to get to this point,” the longtime coach said.
Valley Christian, which spent a month atop MaxPreps’ national computer rankings but is seeded only third in these playoffs because of a well-noted point system, is back in the Central Coast Section Open Division final after rolling to an 8-0 victory over No. 2 seed San Benito in the semifinals.
The Warriors (28-3-1) will play Serra or Los Gatos in the final Friday at Muni.
In its win Tuesday, Valley Christian looked every bit like a national power, getting strong starting pitching from Kevin Pence and clutch hits throughout its order.
“We’re swinging the bats better, which is the right time to swing then if you’re going to swing them,” Diatte said.
One year after winning the Open Division, Valley Christian is once again playing its best in the biggest games. The Warriors won the West Catholic Athletic League postseason tournament, beating Serra in the final to claim a share of the league crown, and have won their two CCS games by identical scores. They beat Sacred Heart Prep 8-0 in the first round.
Steven Zobac put Valley Christian on top in the first inning, blasting a two-run triple through a gap in right-center field.
The Warriors extended the advantage to 4-0 in the third when Coleman Brigman led off with a triple to right and Eddie Park followed with a run-scoring single to center. Zobac’s sacrifice fly to left brought in the fourth run.
The cushion softened the big-game tension for Pence, who allowed three hits over five innings.
“When we have a lead like that, there is nothing better than that, for sure,” the senior said.
Diatte commended his pitcher for battling through five innings.
“I think he is a little tired,” Diatte said. “When you get to this point and you’re a high school kid, you’re doing a lot of things on fumes. Seniors are taking finals. They’re going to graduate in a week. There are a lot of things coming to the end. For them to still grind things out like this, especially like Kevin today, is good.”
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Nick Marinconz put away San Benito in the fourth, clearing the bases with a double to deep left to widen the lead to 7-0.
“It feels awesome being back here,” Pence said. “We’re familiar to the spot. Try to get out there and finish it.”
Check back later for updates on Los Gatos-Serra semifinal.

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