Mirrors and smoke! That could explain how the Sunnyside High School baseball team snuck past the visiting Rochester Warriors yesterday, despite getting out hit by a 9 to 2 margin.
But in actuality, it wasn't any trick plays or hidden gadgets that earned the Grizzlies the 4-1 non-league victory. Simply put, Sunnyside took advantage of what the Warriors gave them.
Oh, and there was also some pretty solid defense on the part of the Grizzlies, as well as a nifty pitching performance by sophomore hurler Gibby Briones.
"It was a good win for us," said Sunnyside Coach Dave Martinez. "The kids are doing the little things right."
A prime example of the detailed execution Martinez refers to occurred in the bottom of the fourth, when Sunnyside basically won the game. The inning started innocently enough, as Briones accidently chopped a roller down the first base line on a check swing. A bit of hustle on his part, coupled with a looping throw to first by the Rochester pitcher, yielded a single, however.
Perhaps a bit unnerved, the Warriors hurler - Risse - plunked the next two Grizzly batters to load the bases. That brought up Briones' older brother, the senior Timmy.
"I told him he had one strike to drive it," said Martinez. "After that, we called for a squeeze bunt."
Briones never connected on his swinging away opportunity, so as ordered, he chopped a bunt straight up the middle as younger brother Gibby was breaking for home. Risse bobbled the bunt and the younger Briones hit the plate unchallenged.
Sunnyside added two more runs in the inning, upping its lead to 4-0, when Cole Boboth worked a bases loaded walk out of Risse, and Zach Marquez pushed in a score with a full cut bunt.
The Grizzlies opened a 1-0 lead on Rochester in their first at-bat of the day. Joel Zakahi got aboard in the bottom of the first on one of three errors the Warriors committed Tuesday, scoring when Diego Burgueno slapped a single up the gut.
It was Zakahi, Sunnyside's ace pitcher who plays left field when he's not on the mound, who turned in perhaps the defensive gem of the day. With Rochester threatening in the top of the fourth with two men on and two outs, Zakahi turned and sprinted toward the fence on a bomb cracked over his head. The senior, already signed to play baseball for Grace College, chased down the long drive and made a spectacular, over-his-shoulder catch while on the fly.
"What a super catch," marveled Martinez.
As outstanding as the Grizzlies' defensive play was yesterday, it might have paled in comparison to the six innings of work the younger Briones put in on the mound. The sophomore was touched for seven hits, allowed a walk and hit one batter, but time and again he got his club out of jams at just the right times.
Briones (1-0), normally Sunnyside's middle relief pitcher but who got a rare start yesterday, kept the Warriors off-balance with a slow breaking curve that time and again dove off the right corner of the plate.
"The Rochester hitters were chasing it," said Martinez.
"Initially, the plan was for Gibby to just throw four innings," Martinez continued. "But, he had a shutout going and said he felt good, so we let him go. He had thrown only 61 pitches heading into the sixth. I think he finished with a 71-pitch count."
Rochester eventually plated a run off Briones in the top of the sixth. After the Grizzlies got out of the frame, Martinez opted for Ryan Engel to mop up the pitching chores in the seventh.
Engel wasn't exactly silky smooth, yielding two singles enroute to the Warriors loading the bases, but he got the job done by inducing a pair of fly outs and fanning the final batter with a third strike heater that was up around the hitter's chin.
"We want Ryan to turn into our closer," said Martinez.
Risse, Rochester's starter, went the entire way Tuesday. With his fastball clocked at about 80 mph, he limited the Grizzlies to just the two hits and fanned four along the way.
"He's probably the best leftie we've seen this season," said Martinez.
Sunnyside (0-4, 2-7-1) was scheduled to host Rochester for another non-league game today, beginning at 11 a.m. The Grizzlies return to Mid-Valley League play this coming Saturday at Ellensburg.
??Bob Story can be contacted at
(509) 837-4500, or e-mail him
Roch. 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 -1 9 3
S'side 1 0 0 3 0 0 x -4 2 1
WP-G. Briones (1-0). LP-Risse. Risse and Knutz; G. Briones, Engel (7) and Marquez.