By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Hart (7-6, 1-0) baseball opened up league play with a big win over Golden Valley (4-7, 0-3).
The Indians were led by sophomore Brayden Jeffris, who batted 2-3 with 2 RBI.
Both teams had the chance to do serious damage in the first inning with loaded bases. However, the Grizzlies grounded out and the Indians managed to score one.
Junior Wyatt Crosby got the start for Golden Valley but would only go one inning.
Hart started to pull away in the third with a five-run inning sparking an 8-0 lead. Indians’ left fielder Michael Hogen hit an RBI single to break open the rally. After a wild pitch from Grizzlies’ relief pitcher Tyler Tait scored another run, the pitcher was pulled. Golden Valley’s next man up in Jack Steidl still couldn’t contain Hart’s rally as Jeffris got his first hit of the day.
“[Jeffris] is one of our best players,” said Hart head coach Jim Ozella. “Your best players got to step it up this time of the year and today [he] did a good job. He’s getting better as the season’s gone on.”
The Grizzlies managed to soften the blows with two runs of their own in the fourth. A wild pitch from Indians’ starter Troy Cooper scored Jacob Frankera.
Then in the fifth, catcher Jesse Alcaraz hit a huge RBI double to cut the lead to five. The Grizzlies kept finding life after two outs but just couldn’t cut the deficit before ending their innings.
The Grizzlies had three costly errors that kept extending Hart’s innings at the plate throughout the game.
“Our baseball IQ needs to be tuned up a little bit,” said Golden Valley head coach Adrian Rios.
The game got away from Golden Valley in the bottom of the fifth after relief pitching lefty Ben Strassner got in a bad bases loaded jam with no outs.
Captain and closer Maurice Edwards was then moved from shortstop to the mound by Rios to somehow save the Grizzlies.
Edwards somehow got out of the jam only giving up one run after retiring three straight batters.
Hart relief pitcher Ethan Rhodes then recorded an immaculate inning, striking out three Grizzlies. Rhodes pitched a great three innings and finished with five strikeouts.
The Indians have now won three of their last four after a tough preseason.
“We’re here to get better every day, not to stay the same,” said Ozella. “We have a long way to go but things are getting a little better.”
Golden Valley is struggling to find it’s groove again and have dropped six straight games. The reigning champs were looking to sweep the Grizzlies in Friday’s matchup at Golden Valley.