first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals“I’m 100 percent confident I can shut Agoura down,” Fowler said. “They’re nothing special. It’s just another game.” Fowler, a left-hander who relies on a variety of off-speed pitches, gives opposing hitters a different look. Pappas is the ace, Deville (6-0, 2.44 ERA) uses a sidearm delivery, and Mulligan (0-0, 0.00 ERA, eight saves) is a top-notch closer who brings heat. Mulligan, who has allowed just two hits and struck out 17 in nine relief innings, is also the starting catcher, so he has a good perspective on the pitching staff. “It’s great because I don’t have to do anything but catch all week, then just come in and close the door,” Mulligan said. “All I have to do is come in for the last inning and let loose with fastballs. It’s fine with me.” Mulligan calls Fowler “Efus” because the left-hander throws so many junk balls. “Scott throws about 47 mph but it works because he keeps hitters off-balance,” Mulligan said. The four pitchers are all returnees from last year’s team. The difference this season is better support, as Valencia has committed just 17 errors compared to 65 in 2005. “The reason I’m doing so well is because of the defense,” Pappas said. “I don’t have to worry about striking people out. I just make the other team hit a lot of ground balls, and it’s been working. When we’re not making errors like last year, it makes it a whole lot easier.” Every Valencia pitcher is wary of keeping the ball down, especially on the Vikings’ home field, because the dimensions are small (310 feet down the line, 350 to the alleys and 370 to center) and a strong wind usually blows out. “If you don’t keep the ball down on this field, you’re going to get lit up,” Mulligan said. Valencia figures to be especially careful with Agoura slugger Robert Stock, who’s batting .463 with six home runs, 25 RBIs and an .800 slugging percentage. “I’m going to pitch Stock inside, which is something I rarely do,” Fowler said. Valencia coach Jared Snyder appreciates such good pitching. “I think it makes it easier to coach when you’ve got a rotation like this,” he said. “Plus, there’s good competition amongst them, so they get a lot of work down because they know one slip and they might lose their spot.” The coach and his players are looking forward to Tuesday’s rematch. “We’ve matured tremendously. We’re a much different team offensively, defensively and on the mound,” Snyder said. And Snyder isn’t concerned about playing such a high-profile opponent in the second round, despite the fact Valencia is a No. 3 seed. “In Div. I, there’s no easy competition. We were either going to get a team like Agoura now or get them later,” Snyder said. “If it wasn’t Agoura, it’d be Mater Dei or Riverside Poly. You can go right on down the line.” [email protected] (661) 257-5218160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VALENCIA – The age-old baseball idiom is that good pitching beats good hitting, and the theory has proved true for Valencia High. Led by pitchers Nick Pappas, Scott Fowler, Caleb Deville and Casey Mulligan, Valencia (25-3) boasts a 2.10 ERA and has won 15 in a row heading into the second round of the Southern Section Div. I playoffs at Agoura at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday. Pappas (10-0, 1.20 ERA) pitched a complete-game two-hitter in a 5-1 victory over Centennial of Corona on Thursday in the playoff opener, and Fowler (4-2, 2.07 ERA) is the scheduled starter against Agoura (18-8), which was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Baseball America and USA Today before a minor slump over the past month. Agoura defeated Valencia 8-4 in a tournament game early this season. This time, everything is on the line, and the Vikings are hoping to continue their winning streak and continue their quest to reach a section final for the first time in school history. last_img