By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Big second and sixth innings at the plate powered the Golden Valley Grizzlies (4-1) to victory over the visiting Poly Parrots (2-3) in their Poly Classic tournament matchup.
Golden Valley was led by captain Maurice Edwards in just about every way possible. The senior made the start at shortstop, batted 3-4 and earned the save for the Grizzlies, shutting down the Parrot bats in his two innings on the mound.
Edwards scored the first run of the game on an RBI single from Matthew Mahotz.
Poly starting pitcher Jorge Martinez gave up the run but was able to respond immediately for the Parrots. The ace blasted a leadoff home run to tie the game in the second inning. Martinez was solid in three innings of work on the mound, as the lefty fanned five Golden Valley batters while also batting 2-3 with 3 RBIs.
The three-run second inning was powered by Grizzlies’ junior Wyatt Crosby, who already had two doubles by the second. After Golden Valley senior Xavier Morales stole home, Martinez balked, putting Grizzlies’ sophomore Brayden Brewer on third. Crosby’s hit was one of three big hits in the second.
Poly again immediately responded with three runs of their own. Multiple Parrots got on top of pitches from Golden Valley starter Jack Steidl and once again Martinez made a play to tie the game. This time Martinez doubled to deep left, clearing the bases for Poly.
“The old Golden Valley would’ve clamped up and gotten scared,” said first-year Grizzlies head coach Adrian Rios. “This G.V. team that I’ve inherited are just ready to compete and play all the time. I’m just really proud of them.”
Both teams’ scoring frenzy cooled down from there and, after a few Golden Valley pitchers struggled to get going, Edwards would move the mound to close.
The Grizzlies had a chance to take the lead in the fifth with two on and no outs but senior Parrots relief pitcher remained calm and struck out consecutive Grizzly batters.
However, in the bottom of the sixth, with two on and no outs, Edwards executed a perfect bunt, reaching first and loading the bases for Crosby. The junior then smacked a ball right at Poly shortstop Uriel Reyes who bobbled the hit, allowing the go-ahead and sixth run to score.
Edwards then retook the mound to make quick work of three more batters. The captain struck out the first then got the final outs to fly out ending the first-round tournament game.
“I just had to breathe,” said Edwards. “Coach told me not to get emotional. If I breathe and trust in my abilities and let it come to me, I knew I could get six outs.”
Golden Valley has quite frankly come out of nowhere and is looking like a serious offensive threat in the Foothill League. The Grizzlies are averaging 11.6 runs a game and already have as many wins this year as their past two seasons combined. The team has also already outscored their mark from last year in 17 less games.
Rios is building something quickly in his first year of action.
“It’s a family right now, it’s different than any other year,” said Edwards. “We’re coming together as a group every day. Inside and outside of school, on the weekends, every day, it’s a family.”
Golden Valley will have a little more tournament and non-league action before opening league play next Wednesday. The Grizzlies will host the Castaic Coyotes in the visiting team’s first ever varsity Foothill League outing March 9 at 3:30 p.m.