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Another Grizzly first

Golden Valley baseball beats Hart for first time ever

Posted: April 16, 2009 1:18 a.m.
Updated: April 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Hart catcher Trevor Brown, right, makes the tag on Golden Valley's Brandon Smith (34) as he heads for home Wednesday at Golden Valley High School.

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Wednesday was a game of firsts for Golden Valley baseball.

The Grizzlies topped Hart for the first time in school history at home 4-2 as Nick Rhoades hit his first home run of the year.

It was Rhoades’ three-run shot in the fourth inning and his five innings of one-run baseball that keyed one of the biggest victories in the program’s history.

“This was big for us, no doubt,” said Golden Valley head coach Scott Drootin. “I think after a game like this one, our guys know if they come and give 100 percent that any team in this league can beat any other team.”

The game, which was played amidst powerful wind gusts that left the infield looking more like it was made for a remake of “Grapes of Wrath” than a baseball game, was a scoreless pitcher’s duel until the bottom of the third when a leadoff walk came back to haunt Hart (9-7-1, 3-3) starter Josh Wagner.

After walking nine-hole hitter Kamran Young, Wagner wild pitched him to second and shortstop Jordan Yallen singled him home.

“Golden Valley deserves this win,” said Hart head coach Jim Ozella. “They came out here and went after it from the first pitch on. We weren’t ready when we stepped off the bus, and we paid for it.”

Walks plagued Wagner in the fourth inning as well, as the Hart right-hander walked a pair before Rhoades drove a ball just over the right field fence to give Golden Valley a 4-0 lead.

“When that ball got over all I could think was, ‘Thank God for wind,’” Rhoades said.

While Rhoades’ offensive impact was a big part of the win, it was a gutty fifth inning on the mound that helped preserve the win.

With one run in and the bases loaded, Rhoades got Hart center fielder C.J. Millar to strike out looking.

“I thought our pitching was great today,” Drootin said. “Both our guys carried us. We know if we throw strikes then we will get wins. Today was an example of how well we can pitch. This victory was really all about pitching.”

Scott Barlow took over on the hill in the sixth for Golden Valley (7-8, 2-4).

He pitched around three errors in the sixth, limiting Hart to only one unearned run.

“I think it is easier for us to pitch at home because we’re more comfortable here,” Rhoades said. “Today things just worked out, and I think our whole team was confident.”

The loss is the second league defeat in a row for the defending Foothill champions, which is one more than Hart dropped all last season.

“Right now we are giving guys opportunities to get at bats and more playing time, but they aren’t stepping up,” Ozella said. “We are kind of at a stalemate as far as how we are going to set up our lineup. There was not a whole lot that happened for us today that we can view as positive.”

While Ozella may not want to remember Wednesday’s performance, Drootin knows that beating Hart in his first year of a rebuilding process can give Golden Valley the momentum to push a team that went winless in league play last season in the right direction.

“This wasn’t the World Series or anything, and I told our team that,” Drootin said. “Still, this is something that these guys can be proud of today.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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