Grass Valley edges Bear River in 1st round of Legion tourney
Coming into the American Legion District 7 Baseball tourney, the Grass Valley Miners boasted the No. 1 seed, are playing on their home diamond and had swept their first round opponent in their regular season series.
That didn’t stop Bear River from giving the Miners all they could handle Thursday morning at Ted White Field to open the district tourney.
Bear River battled the Miners for much of the game, but when the final out was tallied, Grass Valley walked off the diamond with the 5-3 win.
“(Bear River) came out to play, and they knew what the implication would be if they lost, and they threw a good game at us,” Grass Valley manager Jim Souza said. “They came at us with a good pitcher in Michael Scudero. He had his control today. He kept his walks down, forced us to hit the ball and did a good job.”
Despite taking the loss Scudero pitched well, going 4 2/3 innings, allowing five runs, two of which were earned, and striking out six while walking three.
Getting the win from the mound was the Miners’ Christian Straub. The impressive righty went 5 2/3 innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out eight while walking two.
“When (Straub) needs that up-in-the-zone fastball he has that,” Souza said. “His curveball seemed to be on. He didn’t throw it as much as I would like to see him throw it because he has a pretty good curve, but all in all, he went 5 2/3, and I thought he pitched some quality ball.”
Straub said the key to his strong performance was gaining his control early.
“I just wanted to get my first strikes down,” Straub said. “And have control the whole game. That’s my goal every game, and it seemed to work out.”
Straub also helped himself out at the plate with a 2-for-2 day, including two singles a walk and two stolen bases.
Bear River’s offense would be the first to strike, plating a run in the second inning to take the early edge. Bear River’s Dayton Anderson reached base by wearing a pitch. He then advanced to second on a wild pitch, giving Bear River a runner in scoring position with just one out. Anderson advanced to third on a Chance Belding single and then came home on a Tyler Toft RBI ground out.
The Miners responded in the third with three runs of their own to take the lead. With one out, Zach Garrity reached base on an error, and then stole second base to put himself in scoring position. Second baseman Dalton Maxwell then dropped a beautiful bunt that landed Garrity on third and himself on first.
Before the next pitch, Maxwell got caught in a pickle between first and second base but was able to stall long enough for Garrity to make a break for home. The throw home was wild, allowing Garrity to score and Maxwell to advance to third. Maxwell would score a few pitches later when an errant pitch skipped past the catcher. Maxwell finished the day 2-for-3 with a single, a double, a walk and a run scored.
The Miners’ Joey Souza kept the momentum going by ripping a double that soared over the left fielder’s head and one-hopped the wall. Joey Souza would later score on a Brady Porter RBI single to right field.
Joey Souza went 2-for-4 on the day with a double and two runs scored.
Grass Valley extended its lead in the fifth inning, after a Dylan Conger RBI single that plated Joey Souza. The play at the plate was close, and the safe call drew a lot of ire from the Bear River bench and fan base — so much so that a Bear River coach was tossed from the game for arguing with the umpire.
“We had a couple issues with the umpire,” said Bear River coach Jeff Lane, who ran the team after his fellow coach was ejected. “And we have had some in the past and have sent letters asking not to have her again, but we continue to get her. But we lost control a little bit, and we shouldn’t. We should have controlled our emotions a little better, and that cost us some runs, but we were still in it.”
Porter made it 5-1 for Grass Valley after scoring on a throwing error the very next play.
Bear River did regain its composure and battled back with two runs in the top of the sixth with Anderson scoring on a Belding RBI knock and then Belding coming home on a Grass Valley error.
Belding finished the day 2-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base. Anderson reached base twice in three attempts and scored both times.
That would be the end of the Bear River offense though as Joey Souza came in to close, striking out two of the four batters he faced on his way to the save.
For Grass Valley, the defensive standout on the day was Nolan Fillman at catcher as he gunned out two Bear River runners attempting to steal third base. For Bear River, Toft made several outstanding plays at third, often robbing hits at critical junctures.
The closer-than-expected game with Bear River was a good thing because it was a reminder to the Miners that no matter the past, all the teams at this tourney are putting their best foot forward, said Jim Souza.
“All these guys are coming out to win,” he said. “They’re all in the same boat as we are. We all want to continue to play and continue on to the area tournament. Only the winner of the district tourney will advance to the American Legion Area Tournament July 25-28 in Vacaville.
The Miners are back at it at 2 p.m. today for their second round matchup against El Dorado, which beat Placer 4-0.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hank Sowell’s introduction to the game of golf came early as a set of clubs was among the gifts he received on his very first birthday.