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Grizzlies surprise Canyon

Smith’s strong performance on the mound leads Golden Valley to its second-ever victory in Foothill

Posted: March 21, 2009 2:19 a.m.
Updated: March 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
After years in the Foothill League’s cellar, Golden Valley baseball took a giant leap forward on Friday.

The Grizzlies defeated Canyon 5-2 at Golden Valley High, winning their second Foothill League game in school history and their first over the Cowboys on the diamond.

Their only other such win was a 6-4 triumph against West Ranch on April 30, 2007.

Last year, the team won a mere three games and was swept throughout league play.

“When you lose (21) games like they did a year ago, you just have to get them to believe,” said Golden Valley first-year head coach Scott Drootin.

They certainly did, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning and three in the bottom of the sixth, held down by sophomore pitcher Josh Smith.

Smith threw five innings and struck out two, giving up only two runs, one walk and four hits.

“It was big for Josh,” Drootin said. “If you hit your spots, you have a good chance.”

Senior left-hander Nicholas Rhoades closed out the seventh in relief of Smith to earn the save.

With the score tied at two, the Grizzlies (3-3, 1-0) jumped on Canyon starter Donnie Young.

With third baseman Brandon Smith on third and left fielder Kamran Young on second following his double to deep right, sophomore catcher Rocky Sherwood stepped to the plate.

Sherwood delivered, driving in both runners off a double to deep right center.

“It was funny because he had missed the bunt (a pitch before),” Drootin laughed. “The call wasn’t even on. Thank goodness that he missed it.”

Two batters later, Golden Valley added one more run when senior Philip Anderson bunted in Sherwood.

The catcher finished the day 2-for-3 with two RBIs and the run scored.

“We wanted to come out and show the league we aren’t going to finish at the bottom again,” Sherwood said.

The Grizzlies started things off early, posting two in the bottom half of the first frame when center fielder Chris Smith doubled in Jordan Yallen and first baseman Brandon Kaufman drove in Smith.

Canyon (1-5, 0-1) cut into the lead when junior Jacob Kelsey drove in Young to make it 2-1 in the top of the second.

Then in the fourth, junior Thomas Kratky crossed the plate thanks to an Icezak Flemming ground ball sacrifice.

The go-ahead sixth inning voided Young’s strong outing.

The senior tallied five strikeouts over six innings, allowing five runs and nine hits.

“He’s got the leadership for (the team to have strong season), the attitude and the ability,” said Canyon head coach Adam Schulhofer. “(Golden Valley) did a great job of hitting from behind in the count.”

Canyon plays Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks in a doubleheader starting at 10 a.m. today, then travels to Valencia at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Grizzlies will be back in action on Monday when they travel to Littlerock for a 6:30 p.m. matchup, then play at Hart at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday as league play continues.

“These kids work really, really hard,” Drootin said. “They know they belong. We may not be good enough to hit home runs, but we are going to put the ball in play. ... We’ve got a long way to go. We are not there yet, but I like the direction we are headed.”

pputignano@the-signal.com

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