YAKIMA – Sunnyside, in terms of its high school baseball program, crossed a couple of pretty big thresholds last Friday.
The Grizzlies not only nailed down both ends of a doubleheader – a feat so rare that the current coaching staff can’t remember exactly how long it’s been since Sunnyside has swept a twin bill – they also for all intents and purposes guaranteed themselves a postseason game.
Playing at YVCC’s Parker Field, Eisenhower’s temporary home until the school completes a multi-million dollar upgrade to its entire campus, Sunnyside dispatched the host Cadets last Friday, 13-0 and 7-5.
The two victories by Sunnyside completes a three-game season sweep of Ike, which relegates the winless Cadets to a cellar-dweller finish in the Columbia Basin Big Nine League standings.
Sunnyside (3-12, 3-14) still has one CBBN foe on its regular season schedule, state-ranked Wenatchee. The Panthers currently sit atop the conference standings with only one loss. Those two teams will play a single game in Wenatchee this coming Tuesday, then close out the regular season on Friday of this week with a twin bill in Sunnyside.
In sweeping aside Eisenhower last Friday, the Grizzlies wasted little time in establishing their superiority. Sunnyside bolted from the gate with 11 first-inning runs enroute to winning the first game, 13-0.
Sunnyside’s big stick in that first-inning explosion was first baseman Skyler LaViolette. He stroked two doubles in the frame, driving in two runs with his first poke to left field and another run with a two-bagger to right.
Desmond Rodriguez doubled down the left field line, as well, during the 11-run uprising. And, A.J. Muniz collected three RBI in the first inning, too, on a pair of singles.
All told in Friday’s opener, Muniz turned in a 4-for-4 performance at the plate for the winners. Besides the two first-inning singles, he led off the third with a triple to right and poked an RBI double to the left-center field gap in the top of the fifth.
Muniz (1-4) was also the pitcher of record, twirling the first three innings for the Grizzlies in the shortened five-inning affair due to the 10-run mercy rule. He needed just 35 pitches to get through the first three frames, which included yielding just one hit and striking out the side in both the second and third innings.
Jacob Palomarez mopped up on the mound for Sunnyside, preserving the shutout by giving up just two more hits over the course of the final two innings.
Southpaw hurler Martin Gonzalez went five strong innings for Sunnyside in the nightcap to chalk up his first win of the season. Gonzalez (1-4), basically throwing just a fastball with one off-speed pitch – a change-up, kept the Cadets off-balance. He struck out nine batters while yielding only four hits.
“It was probably Martin’s best pitching performance of the season,” said first-year SHS Coach Pete Marquez. “The Ike kids had trouble figuring him out.”
Gonzalez gave way to reliever Eric Heisey in the sixth, who entered the game with the Grizzlies up 6-3. He eventually earned a save with Sunnyside’s 7-5 win.
Sunnyside, thanks to a lead-off single off the bat of Matt Miller and another base knock by Tim Martinez, forged an early 3-0 first-inning lead on the Cadets in the second game.
Martinez, the center fielder, scored again in the top of the third after reaching base on Ike’s third error of the game.
The Cadets cut the gap to 4-1 in the home half of the third thanks to a double to right off the bat of the pitcher, Bailey West.
Ike then made it interesting, drawing to within 4-3, by plating two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. A shot to center by the hard hitting West was misplayed, letting in both runs.
Sunnyside, however, wasted no time in countering. In the top of the sixth - following an infield error that allowed Jacob Palomarez to reach first, a sac bunt off the bat of Gilbert Vidaurri and a walk drawn by Alexis Amaro - Noe Ruiz lined a two-run double to left-center.
The Grizzlies added on another run in the seventh, thanks primarily to a single base knock by Heisey, to go up 7-3.
Ike accounted for the final 7-5 tally by pushing across two runs in the home half of the seventh, due chiefly to an infield error - one of four in the game committed by Sunnyside - and singles by Jaden Lynn and Dalton Creach.