RICHLAND - The Sunnyside High School baseball team righted the ship yesterday with a 4-3, 2-1 sweep at Hanford High School in CBL play. The wins came on the heels of 10-0 and 17-0 losses to Kamiakin last Friday.
"It just shows what can happen if we play together as a team and don't say die," Coach Terry Shines said of Tuesday's double-header sweep over the Richland-area high school. "If our pitchers keep their wits about them and don't lose their cool we'll go a long way," Shines added.
The Grizzlies earned the pair of one-run wins with lights out pitching and, for the first time this season, the long ball.
In game one, Sunnyside starting pitcher Frank Salcedo went the distance in scattering eight hits and striking out five batters.
The Grizzlies only had three hits for the contest, but made them count. Justin Reyes smacked a three-run home run in the third inning with Nathan Cornelius and Cameron Boboth on base to put Sunnyside up for good.
The Falcons managed to push across single runs in the third and fifth innings.
Sunnyside plated the eventual winning run in the top of the sixth inning, when Reyes drew a walk then scored on an RBI hit by Gibby Briones.
Hanford scored in the bottom of the sixth to make it a 4-3 contest. In the seventh stanza the Falcons had the potential tying and winning runs on base, but Salcedo shut the door by setting the last batter down on strikes.
Sunnyside went to the long ball again in game two, as home runs accounted for all of the Grizzly scoring.
Salcedo hit a solo home run to left field in the fourth inning, and Briones-the game two starting pitcher-went yard with a shot to center field that traveled an estimated 400 feet.
Briones twirled a three-hitter against the Falcons, striking out eight batters. Hanford's lone run came in the fifth inning to momentarily tie the contest, before Briones scored the game winner with his solo shot.
Hanford got a runner aboard in the seventh and final inning but he was tagged out in a rundown.
"We picked off quite a few of their guys off base, caught them stealing," said Shines. Sunnyside catcher Diego Burgueno threw out two Hanford base runners on the day.
Shines also praised the play of Cornelius in center field, "He is so solid in center field. He runs down a lot of fly balls that would get past a lot of people."
Grizzly pitching held sway in good part because of pitch location. "We focused on throwing the ball where we would want them (Hanford batters) to swing and got a lot of pop-ups. That was a big thing for us," Shines observed.
Sunnyside's hitting was another positive, as all but two Grizzlies got a hit during the twin bill.
Shines says there's room for improvement, noting that five Sunnyside batters were called out looking at the third strike in game two.
"We're working on not taking too many pitches," Shines said. "We have to work hard on not letting pitchers get ahead of us in the count. We have to be more aggressive."
At the same time, three home runs in two games, by three different players, is a sign that the message is getting through.
"These guys focused (at the plate) and were able to self-correct," Shines noted. "When we go to the plate with technique, we're realizing the ball goes out of the park a lot faster."
Sunnyside (2-2, 3-3) will look to further fine tune its technique when it hosts West Valley this Friday in another CBL doubleheader.