Valencia baseball rides big inning, holds off Golden Valley

Golden Valley catcher Matt Broadwater tries to tag Valencia's Trade Eldridge (8) out at home after Eldridge stole the base during a baseball game at Valencia on Friday, March 24, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

While the big inning has helped Valencia thus far in Foothill League play, it has severely hurt Golden Valley.

Behind an offensive outburst in the fifth inning, the Vikings withstood a furious comeback by Golden Valley to prevail, 9-7, and stay unbeaten in Foothill League play Friday at Valencia High.

“We definitely got out to a good lead like we wanted to and how we try to approach every game,” said Valencia coach Mike Killinger. “And [Golden Valley] earned their way back into it.”

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Leading by one run in the fifth inning, the Vikings (9-2 overall, 4-0 in Foothill) sent 11 hitters to the plate and scored six times to extend their lead to 9-2. The crooked number marks the third straight game Valencia has scored at least four runs in one inning.

As for the Grizzlies, they’ve allowed the opposition to plate at least five runs in one frame in each of their last three Foothill League losses.

“We have to figure out the big inning,” said Golden Valley coach Steve Lombardi. “And I think if we do that, we’re looking at a whole different ball game.”

Valencia’s Trace Eldridge capped the six-run rally with a two-RBI single to score Chris Mueller and Shane Huey. Eldridge had quite a day, as he finished a home run short of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. He even pulled a page out of Jackie Robinson’s book by stealing home.

“I saw the opportunity and just went for it,” Eldridge said regarding the steal.

Golden Valley pitcher Andrew Holt (11) throws a pitch during a baseball game at Valencia on Friday, March 24, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Golden Valley (4-5, 1-3) clawed its way back by scoring five runs in the final two frames.

Following Dylan Rightmyer’s RBI single to drive in Leon Jackson for the Grizzlies in the sixth, two wild pitches by Valencia’s Zack Brown allowed Tristan Lacefield and Rightmyer to score and cut the lead to 9-5.

Rightmyer and Michael Stephan each finished 1-for-3 for the Grizzlies. Jackson also went 1-for-3, including a two-RBI double in the seventh to set the final score 9-7.

“Real proud,” Stephan said. “We came back, we fought back, and we sent a message to them. Next game we’ll be ready for more.”

Valencia’s Tyler Erne went 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored, while Jake Biscailuz finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Mueller added a 2-for-3 effort with an RBI and run scored for the Vikings.

“We’ve strung good at-bats together quite a few times this year,” Killinger said. “Offensively, we’ve been doing a good job.”

With West Ranch’s win over Canyon, a battle of unbeaten Foothill League teams looms Wednesday, as Valencia will play the Wildcats to close out the first round of Foothill League play. Golden Valley will play at Saugus.

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