The Valencia baseball team hosted Canyon on Tuesday afternoon for an uncommon 12:00 p.m. start to avoid the possibility of a rainout, which turned out to be the right call as droplets hit the field just as the game was wrapping up.
Valencia fell behind 1-0 against Canyon in the first inning, but exploded for seven combined runs in the second and third innings, catapulting the Vikings to a 10-4 victory.
Valencia junior Tyler Robitaille took care of business on the mound, striking out five batters in five innings, allowing just two runs, and the Vikings’ offense took care of the rest.
“He’s been great. That’s his third win on the year and every time he’s gone out there he’s given us a real good chance to win,” Valencia head coach Mike Killinger said. “That’s all you can ask from your starting pitchers.”
“Tyler, he’s the most dominant pitcher in our rotation right now that’s healthy,” added senior Kyle Barileau. “He is almost unbeatable if he keeps that composure.”
Senior third baseman Davis Cop got the offense going in the first inning for Valencia (6-4, 3-0 in Foothill League), doubling to left at his first at-bat. However, Canyon lefty Jace Root was able to escape the inning unscathed.
The same couldn’t be said for the second and third innings.
Batting in the six-hole, Barileau waited out two balls, then swung at the right pitch and blasted a home run past the left field wall to even the score at 1-1.
The solo homer seemed to spark the Vikings’ offense, as catcher Grant Weiss then singled to get on base and advanced to second on a mishandled pitch.
Junior shortstop Sean Ogrin then executed a precise bunt to reach base and score Weiss. A single to left from Cop brought in Ogrin, and the Vikings grabbed a 3-1 advantage heading into the third inning.
“As soon as someone gets a big hit like that it just ignites the whole team and as you can see the scoreboard, it just ignited us for the whole game,” Barileau said.
Valencia continued the offensive onslaught in the third inning, with junior Brock Kleszcz getting on base with a single to start the inning. Matt Cotti then reached base off a fielding error from Canyon, followed by an Owen Strader walk.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Barileau once again got the scoring going, singling to left to score Kleszcz. After Weiss struck out, Ogrin grounded out, but Cotti was able to score. Another error from Canyon gave Strader a chance to steal home, beating the throw just in time.
Junior right fielder Parker Simonian singled to score Barileau, giving the Vikings a 7-1 advantage.
“Whoever is at the bottom of the order, whether they are normal starters or reserves getting chances, every time the bottom of the order can roll the innings to the top that’s usually a story for success,” Killinger said.
“It’s so important that everybody, one through nine, to have a good game,” Barileau said. “If that’s what it is, you’re pretty much unbeatable.”
Canyon (3-7, 2-1 in Foothill League) scored another run in the top of the fifth inning, starting with a single from Cebastian Arriaga. Josh Ortega advanced Arriaga with a sacrifice bunt and then a passed ball moved him to third base.
Senior Conrad Meza then came up with his second hit of the afternoon to drive home Arriaga, making the score 7-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth.
The Cowboys’ first run came off a single from Noah Blythe in the first inning, scoring Tyler DeYoung who had singled earlier.
Canyon head coach Justin Stark said numerous errors from the defense hurt the Cowboys, which made Root overextend himself in an effort to keep the game close.
“Jace didn’t have his best stuff, but that was 100 percent on the defense not having his back. They made way too many errors, didn’t play catch and made him work a lot harder than he needed to work,” Stark said. “He knows it wasn’t his best game, but it should have been a lot better if the defense was behind him.”
The Vikings scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Strader got on base with a walk and Weiss doubled to center. Simonian drove in both players with a base hit to make the score 9-2.
Valencia’s Cade Erickson came in to relieve Robitaille in the sixth inning to try and preserve the win.
Canyon doubled its score in the top of the sixth, starting with a single from Aydyn Litz. CJ Dowell then hit a single, but was able to reach second and Litz got to third on a Valencia error.
Blythe came up with his second hit of the day, scoring Litz and advancing Dowell to third. A mishandled throw from Erickson allowed Dowell to score and moved Blythe to third, but then Erickson ended the inning by striking out Arriaga, and causing Ortega to fly out.
Valencia scored one more run in the bottom of the sixth, as Weiss drove in Nick Lottermoser, who had subbed in for Strader and got on a base with a single.
Weiss and Cop both finished 3-for-4 with one RBI each. Simonian went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Barileau finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Ogrin went 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Meza went 2-for-2 for Canyon with an RBI and Blythe finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
“I just felt we got a little comfortable and we just didn’t play baseball the way we should play baseball,” Stark said. “We just got to come out and play baseball the right way, come out with that competitive edge. At the end of the day, we just got to want it. They hit the ball well and they forced us to make plays and it didn’t happen.”
Valencia and Canyon will meet again on Friday at Canyon High School at 3:00 p.m., weather permitting.
“They’re definitely going to try come out and beat us. That’s the goal for the whole season, to beat us, so we just got keep the pedal to the metal,” Barileau said.