Sunnyside High School baseball pitcher Micah Zakahi really seems to have the number of the West Valley Rams.
For the second straight year, Zakahi has gotten the job done against the Rams. Last year, Zakahi tossed the Grizzlies to a victory over West Valley in the second game of a doubleheader to help get Sunnyside into the playoffs. This time around, Zakahi did a job on West Valley to help Sunnyside get off on the right foot in Mid-Valley League play. Zakahi, though, got a little help from his friend, Grizzly catcher Michael Johnson, to win the second game of this past Saturday's home league openers.
After dropping the opening game to West Valley 12-2, Zakahi and Johnson led the charge back to gain a 3-2 victory over the Rams in eight innings.
"We are pretty happy with the split," said Sunnyside Coach Dave Martinez. "It is kind of nice to open league with them because you get to see where you stand."
Zakahi worked six innings, scattering five hits and fanning six Ram batters. Zakahi also had three walks. The only run the Rams got off Zakahi came off back-to-back singles in the third inning. The other run the Rams scored was in the top of the eighth off Johnson.
"Micah did a great job," said Martinez. "He mixed the ball up well. They couldn't sit on his fast ball."
Martinez added that Johnson looked sharp in gaining the save for the Grizzlies. Last summer, Martinez learned just how effective his star catcher could be tossing the ball on the mound. Martinez said Johnson reacted well in a tough situation on Saturday.
Tyler Esqueda broke up West Valley pitcher Chris Bailey's no-hitter in the sixth inning. The heroics for Sunnyside, though, came in the bottom of the seventh inning when Nathan Anderson sent a long ball sailing over the left field wall to force the game into extra innings.
After West Valley gained a run in the top of the eighth, the Grizzlies fought back to rally for the win in the bottom of the frame. Jessie Ramirez singled to start the inning and moved over to second after a balk call. Chris Newberry then walked. Johnson singled to right field to score Ramirez to tie the game. Zakahi then helped out his cause. With a 1-1 count, Zakahi laid down a squeeze bunt to score Newberry to win the game for the Grizzlies.
Martinez said Bailey did a nice job on the mound for the Rams. Martinez said the Grizzlies had a tough time reading Bailey's fast ball.
Martinez also had a lot of praise for Sunnyside's Pete Marquez, who came in to catch for Johnson when he went to pitch in the seventh. Martinez said one of the first things the Rams tried to do was steal a base on Marquez, but West Valley didn't find much luck.
After being sort of roughed up in the first game, Martinez said he was proud of how his team fought back in the nightcap.
"We have the ability to play very good baseball," said Martinez. "They (Sunnyside players) never quit."
In the opening 12-2 loss to West Valley, Sunnyside was a bit slow getting out of the gate.
"We kind of had that deer in the headlights look," said Martinez. "But I take the blame for not having them ready. I should have had them ready."
Derek Uberuaga got the start atop the mound for the Grizzlies. Uberuaga was able to settle down come the third inning, after a rough start. Uberuaga was dinged for five runs in the first two innings, as the Grizzly hurler had trouble with his breaking ball. Uberuaga gave up four walks in the game, three of which scored. Uberuaga, though, was solid the rest of the game, going five innings and striking out four West Valley batters. After allowing five runs in the first two innings, which included a two-run home run in the first, Uberuaga gave up only one run in the fourth.
R.J. Elizondo had some problems closing the game. Elizondo worked the sixth and seventh innings, allowing five runs and six hits. Elizondo gave up a two-run home run in the seventh inning.
Martinez said West Valley's number four and five hitters did most of the damage in the first game. The two spots were each 4-for-5 at the plate with 3 RBIs apiece.
Sunnyside scored one run in the second when Chris Newberry singled to plate Anderson. The Grizzlies' other run came in the fourth inning when Anderson singled to score Johnson, who had doubled in his earlier at-bat.
Newberry had a steady performance for the Grizzlies in the first game. He was 1-for-1 at the plate with two walks.
The Grizzlies (1-1, 4-3) will play Wapato at home this Tuesday in a 4 p.m. single league game. Sunnyside will then host Prosser this coming Saturday in a twin bill.