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California routs Mt. Pleasant, 11-0

| Monday, March 31, 2014, 11:48 p.m.
California's Casey Zajicek (right) is tagged out by Mt. Pleasant's Tyler Mellors during a steal attempt in the fourth inning of a nonsection game Monday, March 31, 2014 at Mt. Pleasant High School.
Lori Padilla | For The Valley Independent
California's Casey Zajicek (right) is tagged out by Mt. Pleasant's Tyler Mellors during a steal attempt in the fourth inning of a nonsection game Monday, March 31, 2014 at Mt. Pleasant High School.

Mt. Pleasant baseball coach Tom Hudzema wants the Vikings to get back to the point where winning is expected and becomes a common occurrence.

A good team for the Vikings to emulate would be the one they faced on Monday.

California is one of the dominant teams in Class A, and the Trojans are off to a fast start this season, winning their first four games, including a six-inning 11-0 nonsection win over host Mt. Pleasant.

“We have some young guys that got some extra work,” Hudzema said after using four pitchers. “Our pitchers battled out of some jams.”

Hudzema found some positives in his pitchers' willingness to fight through some tough situations. However, Mt. Pleasant committed four errors and managed only two hits.

“Our pitchers have done a good job, but we have to find the right buttons to push,” Hudzema said. “That wasn't Mt. Pleasant baseball.”

While the Vikings (1-3), losers of three straight, look for answers, the Trojans (4-0) seem to be right where they want to be heading into section play. California banged out 14 hits, and despite leaving the bases loaded twice in the first four innings, the Trojans put the game away with a four-run fifth inning and a five-run sixth.

“We left the bases loaded a couple of times, but then we started getting the key hits when we needed them,” said California coach and 1999 Connellsville graduate Nick Damico.

California scored an unearned run off Jake Adamrovich in the second inning, then scored a run on an error in the fourth off Nate Pieszak. The Trojans touched up Pieszak for four more runs in the fifth, then put up five against Adam Goldinger in the sixth.

Louden Conte had a big day at the plate for California, collecting a double, two singles and three RBIs to go along with a walk and a run scored. Ron Baron hit a pair of doubles and Robbie DeFranco also doubled. Casey Zavicek and Mike Luketich each singled twice and knocked in a run.

All of the offensive support was more than enough for California pitcher Josh Luko. The right-hander went the distance and gave up just two hits and one walk with six strikeouts.

Jared Kristoff and Tyler Mellors singled in the third inning to account for the two Mt. Pleasant hits.

“Josh is really throwing well,” Damico said. “He wants that ace spot and he beat a good Triple-A team. I was impressed with him.”

The Trojans have outscored their opponents 40-7 in their first four games of the season.

“I think we had a little scare against Monessen (a 7-6 California victory), but they came back and they showed their Trojan pride,” Damico said. “We had a lot of heart and desire.”

Hudzema hopes the Vikings can gain some valuable insight from playing a top-caliber team like California.

“They just keep reloading each year, and that's what we want to get back to here,” Hudzema said.

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at

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