Newhall Hart keeps turning out top college and pro prospects. Just this week, former Indians outfielder Steve Susdorf made his major-league debut for the Philadelphia Phillies.
James Shields, Chris Valaika and Trevor Bauer reached the majors in recent years. Pat Valaika was the starting shortstop for UCLA's NCAA championship team. One of the best pitching prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization is 2011 grad Tyler Glasnow, who has 122 strikeouts in 87 1/3 innings this season.
So understand that Coach Jim Ozella, entering his 15th season, has figured out how to develop his players. And on Saturday in a semifinal game of the VIBL playoffs, the Indians showed off more good talent, particularly in the pitching department, during a 3-0 victory over Chatsworth.
Jack Ralston, a 6-foot-4 junior right-hander, struck out four and walked none in four shutout innings. Chad Haslock, a senior who ended last season with pitching victories over Valencia, West Ranch and Golden Valley, threw three shutout innings of relief. In 23 playoff innings, Hart pitchers have thrown zeroes in 21 of the innings.
As for hitters, there's senior shortstop Nick Valaika, a UCLA commit who had a double. There's rising 6-2 junior first baseman Austin Russ, who had two RBI singles. Weston Fitzpatrick, a standout receiver for the football team, is also a spark in center field. He missed last season with a knee injury from football. Second baseman Dayton Provost, a junior committed to UCLA, isn't even playing this summer to rest a hamstring.
Ralston is still growing, and with his size, he could generate excitement with steady improvement. He spent 10 days this summer in South Korea visiting relatives.
Hart will play Foothill League rival Saugus in Tuesday's 7 p.m. championship game at Birmingham. Saugus defeated El Camino Real, 3-2, in nine innings. Roy Verdejo had three hits and three RBIs.