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Granite Bay shows Hart in taking series finale

Junior pitcher blanks Nevada Union for five innings in 6-4 victory
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Granite Bay was waiting for this day — about one and a half high school baseball seasons.

Mitch Hart, a junior right-hander standing more than 6 feet tall with a fastball consistently at 87 mph and occasionally knocking on the 90-mph door, grabbed the pill, took the bump and started the Grizzlies’ Sierra Foothill League finale against Nevada Union on Saturday. And he shined.

Hart allowed three hits and walked four in five shutout innings, and Granite Bay (11-6 overall, 5-1 SFL) weathered a Miners uprising in the top of the seventh inning to win the game 6-4 and the all-important series 2-1.

Hart was promoted to the varsity level last season as a sophomore. He hit .304 for a Grizzlies team that advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship game against Woodcreek, but Hart was known more as a power pitcher — remember the Lakeside Little League team that came within a game of booking tickets to Williamsport a few years ago? Hart was "the man" on that team.

But an injury to a finger on his throwing hand kept him from pitching last season (he did toss an inning against Woodcreek in the section final), and he made his first appearance this season Tuesday with a mop-up inning in Granite Bay’s 3-1 series-opening loss to the Miners (8-10, 1-5).

On Saturday, Hart struck out three in his 78-pitch outing, and his RBI single to right-center field in the bottom of the fifth gave the Grizzlies a 4-0 lead over Nevada Union.

“He’s battling. This was the first real amount of innings he’s pitched,” Granite Bay coach Pat Esposito said. “He just needs to get some innings now.”

More innings are a good bet to come next week, when the Grizzlies play Woodcreek in a big three-game series.

Granite Bay scored three runs in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Zach Hall and a two-run hit by Devin Lehman. Two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, including an RBI single by Joe Ellis, were needed as it turned out.

The Miners scored three runs in the top of the seventh before a strikeout by Travis Magness slammed the door.

Vinny Esposito went 3 for 3 for the Grizzlies and raised his average to .418. Will George led off the two-run sixth with his second hit and is hitting .405.

Woodcreek 10, Roseville 0 — Dylan Spezia pitched a five-inning one-hitter as the Timberwolves (13-4, 4-2) took two of three from the Tigers (7-10, 1-5). Spezia walked one and struck out six. He also had a triple and two RBI. Cy Hynes drove in three runs, and Tyler Milani had a double and two RBI.

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.