The Sun Valley 16/18-year-old Junior Legion team started strong before losing four games in weekend baseball play.
This past Friday, the Sunnyside team trailed just 4-2 at Walla Walla, before a five-run fifth inning surge proved to be their undoing in a 9-4 loss.
"We played well, we didn't have any errors," Coach Tyler Alseth said of his team's effort. Alseth noted that starting pitcher Cameron Boboth gave up only one walk through five innings of work.
Nathan Cornelius was 3-for-4 at the plate and Boboth was 2-for-4.
Cornelius, B.J. Miller and Diego Burgueno all had an RBI for Sun Valley.
"We played well that first game," Alseth said. "But it's kind of been a pattern this year that the fourth and fifth innings are tough for us. We need to get over that hump."
The middle innings again proved to be Sun Valley's undoing in an 11-1 game two loss at Walla Walla on Friday,
After Cornelius singled and scored Sun Valley's only run in the fourth inning to make it a 4-1 game, Walla Walla broke out the bats and broke open the game in the bottom of the fourth with a five-run rally.
"Their pitcher was dominating," Alseth said of the Walla Walla hurler. "Cornelius got the only hit off of him."
The fourth/fifth inning woes continued Sunday, as Sun Valley lost 11-1 at West Valley.
Again, the contest was close. In fact, the two teams were tied 1-1 heading into the bottom of the pivotal fifth inning.
That's when West Valley broke through against Victor Nunez, Sun Valley's 14-year-old prodigy, for five earned runs and eight altogether to go up for good at 9-1.
"We were impressed with Victor," said Alseth, "He'll be a freshman and he pitched against kids who will be juniors and seniors."
While Nunez struggled with control and getting pitches up in the strike zone, Sun Valley fielders committed two errors in the fateful fifth inning.
Sun Valley's only run came in the third, when Angelo Salinas led off with a walk and came around to score on a base hit by Cornelius, who went 2-for-3 at the plate. "Nathan had a good weekend, he hit the ball well," said Alseth.
It was same song, fourth verse, to close out the weekend of four losses, as Sun Valley lost another 11-1 contest in game two at West Valley.
Sun Valley trailed just 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth, when the hosts pushed across five runs to all but put the game away.
The Sunnyside club's lone run came in the fourth, when Sam Bardell singled and scored on a base hit by Salazar.
Sun Valley (0-10) is home today on the varsity baseball field at 2 p.m. to play Kennewick.
"We haven't won a game yet, but if you look at the innings we've been in the games," Alseth observed.
As to why his team struggles in the fourth and fifth, Alseth offered, "I think part of it is inexperience. We have a really young team, and after we get through those first few innings we lose focus."
Alseth said he and his staff have considered a pitcher by committee, since it seems like his hurlers are consistently hit in the fourth and fifth stanzas.
But that may not be an answer either.
"We don't have a lot of pitchers to be able to go three innings at a time," he said. "And we have a lot of guys who haven't pitched before."