Two young and ambitious teams took to the baseball diamond Tuesday evening in American Legion baseball action that pitted the Grass Valley Miners against the Bear River Bruins.
When the dust settled, it was Nevada Union claiming victory in the first of three games between the cross county teams.
The Miners brought their bats and starting pitcher Joe Souza shutdown the Bruins for a 13-1 victory at Bear River.
“Everything was clicking more today,” said Souza. “My curve worked well and I rode it the whole game. I like to show it early and comeback with a fastball inside. It has tight spins so it creates an illusion. I’m also working on a knuckle.”
Souza put together a dominating performance as he went the distance going five strong innings with only one run allowed on two hits with seven strikeouts and a walk. There was plenty of fire power to go around as the Miners bashed 10 hits in the game.
Lead off hitter Jacob Freele reached base in all four of his at-bats as he went 1-for-2 at the plate with a walk and an RBI-single to help with NU’s six-run rally in the top of the third. He also had two stolen bases.
Souza helped out his own cause as he went 2-for-2 at the dish with a sac-fly to drive in Freele in the first inning and later added a single, an RBI-walk with the bases loaded and an RBI-double down the left field line. Both Brady Porter and Dalton Maxwell added RBI-singles to push the NU lead to 3-0 early on.
“(Souza’s) curveball was working pretty good in the dirt with guys swinging over it,” said Grass Valley head coach Jim Souza. “Dalton (Maxwell) did well driving in runs. When Freele hits a single, it can almost turn into a double with that kid. By his second step, he’s already at full speed.”
Bear River’s only run came in the bottom half of the second inning. Starting pitcher Michael Scudero led off with a base-hit and later advanced to second on a throwing error. Mathew Lopez laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Scudero over to third and Dayton Anderson stepped in to the batter’s box and executed a perfect suicide squeeze down the first base line to bring Scudero home. Scudero went 2-for-2 at the plate as he accounted for both of Bear River’s hits. The Bruins were also without two of their best bats, Brandon Donley and David Chorjel.
“It was a throw it together and hope for the best kind of day,” said Bruins head coach Dave Crilly after the team’s first game of American Legion play summer ball. “We got everybody in to find moving parts so we can start making adjustments. We’re in the middle of a culture change. Seven seniors graduated. We have some talent we’re just trying to get a feel for how they respond. We had freshman in there facing 79-83 mph. Tomorrow we’ll go with a different starter and not be quite as generous with the subs. We want our offense to get into rhythm.”
For Grass Valley, Maxwell collected two more RBIs in the third after he punched a single through the right side of the infield. He finished 2-for-3 batting with three RBIs and a walk. Noah Arriaga knocked in a run in the fifth and Tristan Cook drove in the final run of the evening with a sac-fly.
“The biggest thing these guys need to do is develop team camaraderie,” added Jim Souza. “I want them ready for coach White. The seniors know what he expects so I’ll let them be the big dogs on the block.”
The Bruins used four pitchers for the game starting with Scudero who threw two innings and yielded five hits, eight runs, three walks and fanned one.
Jake Sypnicki entered the game in the third and inherited two base runners. He threw two innings and allowed three hits, one run, a walk and struck out a pair.
Grae Golightly began the fifth inning for the Bruins on the mound and surrendered three walks, two hits and three runs before being relived by Tyler Toft who closed out the inning as he retired three consecutive batters.
“There’s a bunch of young guys,” Jim Souza said. “We’ve been meshing really well. We’re trying to get them ready. The jump from JV to varsity is huge, both competitively and with talent.”
The Miners (4-0) play the Bruins (0-1) for Game 2 of this three-game series today at 5:30 p.m. at Nevada Union.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.