By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Canyon baseball (8-9-1, 1-5) looked dominant in its non-league mercy rule win over the San Fernando Tigers (7-7, 4-2).
The Cowboys were led by starting pitcher Danny Fields with an all-around performance on Wednesday. Fields hit a perfect 4-4 at the plate while throwing four strong innings on the mound, earning the win.
Canyon sparked right away and scored a trio of runs before registering their first out.
Cowboys’ third baseman Austin Rodriguez got the second of four first-inning hits, and brought in the first two runs with an RBI double.
Canyon exploded in the second, scoring five runs while going through the entire order.
Designated hitter Joshua Critchfield got the first RBI of the second with his second hit of the day. “Critch” waited for the right pitch with the bases loaded and one out.
Critchfield has missed two weeks of action, being in concussion protocol, and did the Cowboys miss him. He batted 1.000, going 3-3 with 2 RBI and a walk. He also batted 3-3 against Kennedy the day before.
“Josh being in concussion protocol against Golden Valley and Valencia definitely didn’t help our cause,” said Canyon head coach Jeremy Leonardo. “So having him is going to be really crucial for us this last three-week stretch.”
“Everyone’s feeling great,” said Critchfield. “We’re really looking forward to these next few games.”
Canyon kept bringing down the hammer and never let up. The team hit the 10-run lead for the mercy rule in the third inning after a sacrifice fly from Dustin Aleck.
San Fernando responded and managed to score their sole run of the game in the top of the fourth.
Tigers’ shortstop Javier Alvarez hit a deep double to left to give his teammate Carlos Esparza a chance to get San Fernando on the board. Canyon center fielder Pablo Rodriguez threw an absolute bomb from the center to catcher Adrian Santos but the ball took a weird bounce just feet before reaching the catcher, scoring the run.
The Cowboys seemed determined to end their day early, and scored their final four runs in the fourth inning.
Fields brought in Jason Covarrubias with an RBI single before five straight Cowboys were walked.
Esparza took over on the mound with bases loaded and just one out. The relief pitcher immediately got the hit he wanted as Jason Mourthi lined out to Esparza. The pitcher got the ball to the plate and sparked the 1-2-3 double play.
The Tigers would get two on base quickly thanks to two consecutive leadoff walks from Canyon relief pitcher Roman Mercado. Mercado quickly bounced back and then also helped spark a double play before retiring Joel Ruvalcaba to end the game in the top of the fifth.
The Cowboys have now won two straight for the first time in over a month. The team has had some solid outings in its non-league matchups and will look to carry the momentum into league play next week against Castaic.
“[The] season’s on the line right here,” said Critchfield. “These next series against Castaic, Hart and Saugus. We gotta sweep a couple of them to keep ourselves in it. These two games really pumped us up for those next series.”
Canyon will have a chance to jump back into playoff contention against a talented Coyote squad in their upcoming league series. If the Cowboys can get a couple of games to fall in their favor, the team can slide into the fourth seed in league for a potential playoff berth.
Leonardo knows the task at hand and will have his team ready for Castaic. Leonardo says his team has been swinging more aggressively after being a little passive in their first few league series and is looking forward to the remainder of the team’s league games.
“For us, it’s just staying competitive,” said Leonardo. “Each day, we come out here with the same approach, we can’t take anything for granted. We’re not a team that takes anybody lightly and we need to continue to control the things we can control.”
Castaic will host the Cowboys for game one of their series on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.