MOXEE - It was a tale of two halves for the Sunnyside High School baseball team this past Saturday.
Making their season debut at 2A East Valley, the Grizzlies forged a 4-0 lead through the first three innings. The Red Devils stormed back, however, in the latter stages of the non-league game, erupting to claim a 14-4 decision. The contest was shortened to five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
"Right now," said SHS Coach Dave Martinez, "we're just worried about getting ready for March 25th."
That's the date of the Grizzlies' 3A Mid-Valley League opener, which happens to be against the perennial powerhouse Selah Vikings.
Martinez's crew wasn't overly concerned with coming away with a 'W' this past Saturday. Had they been, starting pitcher Cole Boboth wouldn't have exited the game after working three scoreless innings. Martinez explained that all his hurlers are on a pitch count this early in the season, noting that Boboth was slated to throw no more than 50 pitches last Saturday. Boboth, who yielded just two hits in his three innings of work, was up to 47 pitches by the time the Grizzlies retired East Valley in the bottom of the third.
"Cole (Boboth) looked very good for his first outing of the season," said Martinez, noting that besides limiting the Red Devils to just two hits, the hurler fanned two East Valley batters while giving up two walks.
Boboth's replacement, Ryan Engel, didn't fare quite as well. Engel issued a base-on-balls and yielded two singles to start the fourth, which allowed East Valley to draw within 4-1. Still, Engel wasn't in too much trouble, as he proceeded to induce a pop-up and then a groundout. Unfortunately for the Sunnyside reliever, what should have been the third out of the inning resulted in two more Red Devil runs, when a pitch lofted to the outfield was snared by the swirling winds and ended up being misplayed.
East Valley used the miscue to start a rally, which resulted in three more fourth inning runs and another eight runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Gibby Briones replaced Engel on the mound, but was unable to reign in the Red Devils' hit parade.
Sunnyside opened a 3-0 lead on the home team in the top of the first. Following three consecutive walks, Lucas Ramos hit into a fielder's choice, only to have the grounder misplayed for an error, which let in the first of the three runs. Zach Marquez, 2-for-3 on the day and the only Grizzly with a multi-hit game Saturday, followed by spanking an RBI single. On the play the Red Devils committed another error, which allowed the Grizzlies to plate a third run.
The visitors added a solo run in the top of the second, when Joel Zakahi launched a homer over the left-center field fence.
Sunnyside's 4-0 lead disappeared in the fourth, though, when the Red Devils plated six runs of their own. The eight-run outburst by East Valley in the fifth ended the contest.
S'side 3 1 0 0 0 -4 5 1
E. Valley 0 0 0 6 8 -14 11 2
Boboth, Engel (4), Briones (4) and Marquez, Burgueno (4). LP-Engel (0-1). Smith, Fortenberry (4) and Smith, Belinsky (4). WP-Smith (1-0). Sunnyside highlights: Marquez 2/3, Zakahi HR (1), Ramos 1/3, Coleman 1/3.