Golden Valley senior Francisco Agredrano ended Saturday morning’s home league game against the Canyon Cowboys with a bang.
Agredano ended the game with a walk-off RBI single to score the game-winning run in the eighth inning to edge past the Cowboys.
“I was just looking to hit the ball,” Agredano said. “I got exactly what I was looking for, a cookie right down at my knees and I cooked it.”
The Grizzlies completed the comeback, winning the game 5-4 after trailing in the bottom of the seventh.
A huge triple from Golden Valley leadoff hitter Matthew Mahotz tied the score at 4-4 in the seventh. Mahotz and Agredano were two of five Grizzlies to finish with two-hit days.
Canyon (3-14, 0-5) struck first after shortstop Benny Santos reached on a fielding error to lead off the game. Santos was brought in for the first-inning score, off the bat of pitcher Elijah Valentin.
The Grizzlies immediately answered as catcher Braden Brewer hit the first of two doubles to go up 2-1 but Valentin stood tall from there on.
The Cowboys pitcher retired 11 of his next 13 opponents before ending his day in the fifth inning. Valentin finished with two walks and four strikeouts while also leading the Canyon offense after his 2-for-3 day at the plate.
“Elijah is just an athlete,” said Canyon head coach Zach Newman. “He is an incredible competitor and that speaks for itself. It’s the leader and respectful young man he’s become that makes me most proud. So, he can and should keep smacking out doubles for us, but he’s grown so much as a person, and that’s the best thing to see as a coach.”
Valentin didn’t get the win on the mound but nearly sealed the game in the top of the seventh. The pitcher got on base after being walked before a Pablo Rodriguez single sent Valentin to third base. The two runners on the corner showed signs of a double steal but Rodriguez over-extended and forced a checkdown from Grizzlies pitcher Brandon Wright, clearing a lane for Valentin to score.
“When we got that fourth run it was pure adrenaline,” Newman said. “High school baseball is just a great thing to watch. Just wish we could have held out, but it happens. It’s all part of the game and nobody is to blame. We played hard through and through.”
Wright quickly made up for the run in the bottom of the eighth with a hit at the plate that pushed Brewer, the game-winning run, into scoring position just before Agredano’s walk-off.
Golden Valley (11-7, 2-5) received another quality start from junior Jack Steidl on the mound. Steidl allowed three runs, fanned four batters and jammed the inside corners of the strike zone throughout the day.
Grizzlies head coach Adrian Rios was pleased with Steidl’s performance, but even after an impressive outing, knows his ace could be better.
“Jack didn’t have his best stuff today but he still gave us six strong innings,” Rios said. “So, I was happy with that and happy I didn’t have to really touch into my bullpen.”
The Grizzlies now have 11 wins on the season, equaling the program’s total wins from the last three years combined. The team’s confidence has risen after some tough times in previous seasons.
“We’re hitting, competing and we just keep playing,” Agredano said. “It isn’t like last year where we got down on ourselves, we just keep playing.”
Rios has the program on the rise and is aiming to be the first Grizzly head coach to lead a team into the playoffs.
“There’s nothing hanging out there that says we’ve ever played baseball,” Rios said. “We’ve never gotten to the postseason. That’s what I want for this program, especially for my seniors. I’m the third coach in four years for some of these guys. A lot of the kids had a shortened season with the pandemic… I want the program itself to get to the next level and put something out there that says, ‘Hey, we’ve been in the playoffs.’”
The Cowboys are also looking for a resurgence in their program. The Canyon seniors are also playing for their third coach in four years with a steep hill to climb in the Foothill League.
Newman is nonetheless proud of how far his team has come in his first year with the program. The Cowboys have played well but dealt with some heartbreak, as eight of their 14 losses have been by three or fewer runs.
“I will say I continue to be more proud of my squad with each game,” Newman said. “They give their all always, and the baseball gods haven’t been favoring us these last couple games. We hit well and Elijah Valentin continued to drive them deep and pitched great. We just lost. We will wash our hands and get back at it on Monday. It should be another good game.”
Golden Valley was set to head to Canyon for round two with the Cowboys on Monday at 3:30 p.m.