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Villa Park baseball tops Foothill in extra-inning battle

TUSTIN — Judging by the rankings, the two Crestview League baseball teams most likely to contend for the league title are Villa Park and Foothill.

The Spartans took on the Knights in the first of three league matchups this season on Friday at Foothill High School.

Round one went to Villa Park, which got a game-winning, two-run double from Jack Burke in the eighth inning to lift the Spartans to a 7-5 victory.

Villa Park (12-1, 3-0) took a 4-3 lead into the seventh, but Austin Overn’s RBI single for the Knights (11-6, 2-1) in the bottom of the inning sent the contest to extra innings.

The Spartans, who are ranked No. 6 in Division 1 of the CIF Southern Section and No. 6 in Orange County, collected 12 hits.

Villa Park had already been getting production from the bottom part of the lineup and that continued in the eighth. No.6 hitter Tyler Gordon reached on a bunt single and stole second.

No. 7 hitter A.J. Krodel also hit a bunt single, putting runners on first and third

Two out later, leadoff hitter Gavin Grahovac was walked intentionally. Burke then stepped up and doubled to right-center to score Gordon and Krodel.

“He walked the guy before me and I was like, I got to make something happen here,” Burke said. “I stayed within myself and he threw it low and away. I stayed through the zone and I made something happen. Good teams find a way to put the bat on the ball.”

Geoff McArthur singled home Burke, giving the Spartans a 7-4 lead.

But Foothill wasn’t done.

Brady Schrank led off the Knights’ eighth with a home run, but Krodel, who entered the game in the fifth to relieve starter Brandon Luu, retired the next three hitters to pick up the victory.

“Our team has been really solid about competing and fighting and just grinding out W’s,” Villa Park coach Burt Call said. “I think they did that today, handled adversity and just kept competing and battling.”

Villa Park scored a run in its first at-bat, but Foothill came back in the bottom of the first and capitalized on three Spartans errors to score three runs and take a 3-1 lead.

“I think we were kind of amped up a little bit,” Call said about the first-inning mistakes. “Big game and stuff. I think once we got through the first inning, we were able to settle down and compete.”

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