WEST VALLEY - Tyler Esqueda kicked it into high gear and the rest of his teammates followed as the Sun Valley 16-18-year-old baseball team won its opening game of the West Valley tournament yesterday.
Sun Valley won a tightly contested 3-2 contest against the younger of two West Valley teams playing in the tournament.
Sun Valley (10-4) was scheduled to play this morning against a team out of the Seattle area. The eight-team tournament will wrap up play Sunday.
Esqueda, the pitcher, had a rough first inning, giving a pair of runs, but really found his niche in the second inning. Sun Valley Coach Dave Martinez said West Valley did a nice job of putting together runs in the first inning. The lead-off batter opened the game with a hit and then the No. 2 batter got aboard on a nice hit and run play. West Valley's third batter laid down an RBI bloop single. Another hit later in the inning scored West Valley's other run.
Even though he was banged around a bit, Esqueda found his comfort zone in the second inning. Esqueda was probably inspired after a stellar play from Sun Valley second baseman Jessie Ramirez, who turned an unassited double play in the frame. Esqueda cruised the rest of the way, striking out the side in two different innings. Esqueda finished with a six-hitter and issued only two walks. He collected five strikeouts in a complete game performance.
"Tyler had another good outing," said Martinez."Tyler didn't get behind in the count too much. He did a good job of not getting in a hole."
Sun Valley got on the board in the bottom of the second inning when Joel Zakahi, who was 1-for-2 on the afternoon, laid down a single to plate Tyler Cullen, who went 1-for-3. Sun Valley picked up the pair of winning runs in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Eric Crimp laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Chris Newberry. Derek Uberuaga scored the game-winning run of an error, one of three West Valley had on the day.
Sun Valley excelled defensively, committing one error on the afternoon.
"These guys did a good job of playing defense," said Martinez of his team.
Martinez would have liked to have seen his team swing the bat a bit better, as Sun Valley had just four hits. Newberry didn't have a hit in the game, but was walked once and hit by a pitch. Martinez said the team stepped up in other areas. He noted an exceptional defensive play of Cullen at shortstop for Sun Valley during the game that stopped a West Valley run. Martinez said Cullen dove out and snagged a ball to end a West Valley threat. Martinez judges baseball games on three factors, whether a team can play defense, pitching and hitting. Martinez said when a team can get two out of three of those going things are usually going to turn out rather well.
"Today we had pitching and defense," said Martinez.