SELAH – Fielding a youth movement of primarily freshmen, sophomores and even a seventh grader, the Sunnyside Grizzly 17U summer baseball team is playing with spring in mind.
“Getting exposure to as much quality pitching and hitting as possible will help them be able to handle the pressure of (4A) Big Nine pitching and hitting,” said Dave Martinez, a team manager assisting Coach Terry Shines. “We want to fine-tune things so when March comes around we’re not starting from scratch,” he said of the 2015 high school campaign.
To that end, Sunnyside played five games in a span of four days last week at a tourney in Selah. All five contests ended after five innings due to an 8-run mercy rule.
Sunnyside started with an 11-3 loss to West Valley on Thursday, followed by a 9-1 Friday night loss under the lights against Mt. Spokane. The Grizzlies’ lone run scored on a base hit by Jacob Mendoza to bring home Noe Ruiz.
The Grizzlies lost their next two games against Richland and Pasco by identical 8-0 scores.
Sunnyside wrapped up the Selah tourney with another 9-1 loss to Mt. Spokane, a 3A State baseball champion. A.J. Muniz accounted for the Grizzlies’ run with an RBI double to score Elias Romero. Earlier in the game, Muniz just missed out on a bases-loaded double. “He drove a pitch to centerfield but their guy laid out to catch it,” said Martinez.
For the tourney, Muniz led Sunnyside with five base hits.
“We hit the ball very well in spots,” said Shines, who noted Sunnyside was missing Tim Martinez, who suffered a shoulder injury in a game prior to the tourney.
Grizzly starting pitchers for the five games were Erick Heise, Muniz, Martin Gonzalez and Jacob Mendoza, respectively.
Sunnyside returns to action tomorrow, Tuesday, for a doubleheader in Yakima against the Blues, a junior team of the Yakima Beetles.
The Grizzlies will then be home this coming Thursday for a twin bill at 2 p.m. to face Gonzaga Prep.
The five losses at last week’s tourney dropped Sunnyside’s summer season record to 1-13. Martinez says it would be nice to get more wins, but the main focus is to use the summer program as a training ground, a spring board for the 2015 Grizzly baseball season next spring.
“We’re really proud of the young guys, how they are playing and holding themselves up,” he said. “The hard work in the summer will make things that much easier next spring.”