MOXEE – In its next-to-last game of the summer, the Sunnyside Grizzly 17U baseball team held on for a 7-5 victory over host East Valley last Saturday.
Playing at a summer ball tourney hosted by the Red Devils, Sunnyside hurler Jacob Mendoza surrendered three earned runs to earn the win. Reliever Zavian Sustaita recorded the game’s final out to notch the save.
Trailing 2-0, Sunnyside pushed across five runs in the third, sparked by two-run singles off the bats of Matthew Miller and Gilbert Vidaurri. Miller and Noe Ruiz both had two hits in the contest.
The Grizzlies tacked on single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to go up 7-2, before East Valley mustered a three-run rally in the seventh and final frame.
Manager Dave Martinez praised Mendoza for working through a toe injury to pull off the nearly complete-game pitching victory.
Sustaita has primarily worked behind the plate this summer for the Grizzlies, but turned to pitching at season’s end due to an injury-depleted bullpen. Ryan Hernandez, who’ll be an eighth grader this fall, filled in behind the plate for Sunnyside.
Sustaita’s one-third inning of work on Saturday was a pre-cursor to Sunday’s season finale, also against East Valley. Taking the mound for the Grizzlies, Sustaita twirled a three-hit complete-game gem, only to end up on the losing side of a 2-1 score. “I think we’ve found another pitcher for next spring,” Martinez said.
Sunnyside had a chance to force extra innings in the seventh when Miller drilled an 0-2 pitch to deep right field and reached second base with two outs. The Grizzlies came up empty-handed, but Martinez said it was a valuable experience for next spring. “After the game we talked about how much more fun it is to compete and have the opportunity for our at-bats to mean something.”
Sunnyside played two other games at the East Valley tourney, opening with a 12-0 loss on Thursday to the Kings, a select team of players from Yakima and the Tri-Cities. The Grizzlies also dropped their second game of the tourney on Friday with an 8-2 loss to Prosser.
Their 1-3 record at the season-ending tourney leaves Sunnyside with an overall 4-23 summer record.
Martinez says it’s not just about wins and losses, though, noting the focus is preparing for next spring.
As an example, many of Sunnyside’s batters chalked up 80 or so at-bats this summer, which Martinez says is the equivalent of about one-and-a-half seasons of high school ball.
“The situational experience they saw, the chemistry they developed this summer will help us in the spring,” Martinez said.