By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
The Valencia Vikings (1-4) have struggled out of the gate this season, spotlighted by Tuesday’s worst loss yet to San Marcos (3-2) in their final Easton Tournament game.
Tyler Biggs got the start for the Vikings. The big right-handed pitcher struggled early, giving up three runs in the top of the first via wild pitches and solid San Marcos hitting.
Scotty Pieper kept the Vikings afloat with a big RBI single that drove in two runs in the bottom of the second.
“Scotty is a little spark plug,” said Valencia head coach Brad Meza. “He gets on base and makes things happen.”
Errors killed Valencia all game long from all over the field. In the top of the fourth, an infield error and bad throw from catcher Aiden Voyles saw San Marcos extend their lead to three runs.
Royals’ starting pitcher Nicky Fell went down hard at the plate in the top of the fourth. Fell potentially dislocated his knee while swinging and was taken off by paramedics. His outing was cut short but the senior tallied six strikeouts in his three innings.
After the 25-minute delay, Biggs still had two runners on with two outs. However, another wild pitch scored the first and a deep shot to center brought in the second runner in the same at-bat, forcing Meza to pull his starter.
Relief pitcher Kaden Shields would come in for Valencia needing just one out, but Shields also struggled. Valencia eventually got out of the inning down 10-2.
However, the Vikings found life in the bottom of the fourth. Senior Kyle Rosenfeld had a leadoff hit on relief pitcher Aiden Mandel. The dominoes then kept falling for Valencia. With the bases loaded, first baseman Jose Mariano hit an RBI double to left, scoring two Vikings’ runs. Voyles would then finish the Vikings’ run with another RBI double that gave Valencia six runs.
Mandel was then pulled for lefty Emmitt Speake, who got the Royals out of the inning. Speake finished with four strikeouts on the mound as well being one of three Royals with three or more hits against Valencia.
The Vikings would continue to rally late in the game but with runners on the corners, San Marcos managed two big strikeouts.
Valencia can be an explosive team on both sides of the field. Meza is doing everything in his power in his first year to keep the Vikings playing competitively and stay aggressive all game long.
“This team prides themselves on pitching and defense,” said Meza. “The pitchers stay down in the zone and they’ve come a long way since I’ve come over.”
Valencia is looking to rebound after last season’s fourth-place finish in the Foothill League caused the team to miss the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
The Vikings will now have a long 10 days off before hosting Grace Brethren on Saturday, March 5, at 10 a.m.