The Valencia baseball team started off league play with a bang, defeating Canyon 15-1 at Canyon High School on Wednesday.
The Vikings’ starting pitcher, Tyler Robitaille, was masterful on the mound in five innings of work, striking out 11 Cowboys and only giving up four hits and one run to earn his first win of the season.
“He has come out of the gates really strong,” said Valencia head coach Mike Killinger. “That’s his first win and I think that puts him at 30 strikeouts in three starts. He and (Ryan) Kysar are battling for who’s No. 1 and who’s No. 2, maybe they are both No. 1’s.”
Valencia (4-3-1 overall, 1-0 Foothill League) got off to a strong start, scoring five runs in the first inning, four of which came off a grand slam by USC baseball commit, Steven Gonzalez, and the Vikings never looked back. Jakob Marquez scored the game’s first run with an RBI single.
“I was way out in front of those two first pitches and I was just trying to stay on the backside,” Gonzalez said. “Fortunately, I let it travel enough to get most of it.”
Gonzalez finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs and Marquez 2-for-2 with two doubles and an RBI.
Robitaille came on and admitted that since the Vikings stampeded out to a big lead in the first he was able to play his game by striking out Canyon’s first six batters before giving up a hit. Canyon’s Josh Ortega broke up the no-hit bid in the bottom of the third.
“Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. It got the whole lineup going,” Robitaille said of the grand slam. “It was awesome with all of our hitters getting hot. It’s a good start to league.”
Canyon (5-2, 0-1) began the game with Jacob Melville on the mound and recorded the game’s first strikeout, but found it hard to quench the Vikings’ thirst for runs. He lasted just three innings and gave up seven runs and struck out four batters.
Grant Weiss and Mitchell Torres tacked on two more runs in the third inning with an RBI double and an RBI single, respectively, to take a commanding 7-0 lead.
Junior righty pitcher, Connor Lee, came on to relieve Melville, but couldn’t find his marks and allowed the Vikings first four batters to reach base safely. Before the inning was over, Melville had allowed two more runs to cross the plate.
“Baseball is so hard that it’s really hard to have all your guys going good at the same time, but when you do have enough guys like that, even if one guy is off, three or four guys can pick him up,” Killinger said. “That’s the benefit of having such a deep lineup.”
Robitaille continued to sit Cowboys’ batters down, collecting three more strikes after giving up his second hit of the game, in the bottom of the fourth, to Noah Blythe on a single.
Lee sat the first two Vikings’ batters in the top of the fifth, but then ran into some trouble and loaded the bases with three consecutive “hit by pitches” to Kaden Brennan, Sean Ogrin and Brock Kleszcz.
As a result, Frank Boyce came on for Lee in the next at-bat. But with the bases loaded, Parker Simonian hit an RBI double to score Brennan and Ogrin to take an 11-0 lead. Two batters later, the bases were loaded again, Weiss added to the Vikings’ lead with a two-run RBI double for himself. Kleszcz and Simonian scored to make it 13-0 Valencia.
In Robitaille’s final inning of the day, Shawnn Adams got on base with a single, Ortega walked, Colin Figueroa singled and Chris DeLong brought home the only Canyon run of the game scoring Adams off an RBI single to make it 13-1 in the visitors’ favor. Figueroa was thrown out at home plate.
Valencia’s JT Tejeda and Ben Manly took the mound in the sixth and seventh inning, respectively, striking out a batter each. Nick Lottermoster and Marquez each crossed the plate in the top of the seventh to seal the first league win for the Vikings.
“We just have to play better,” said Canyon head coach Justin Stark. “It wasn’t our game. We are going to have to get back at it in practice and get ready for the next game.”
The Cowboys and Vikings meet up again at 3 p.m. at Valencia on Friday.