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Hart turns things around

Two days after losing to the Grizzlies for first time, the Indians strike back

Posted: April 17, 2009 9:58 p.m.
Updated: April 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
For two-and-a-half innings it looked like history might repeat itself.

Two days after Golden Valley baseball notched its first win against Hart in the program’s history, the Grizzlies held a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the third at Hart Friday.

But the Indians quickly snapped out of their slump, pushing across three in the third en route to a 10-2 win.

“These two games have been Jekyll and Hyde,” said Hart head coach Jim Ozella. “We played a lot better today, and we executed the hustle and fundamental plays that we didn’t on Wednesday.”

Hart starter Garrett Gooding struggled with control and left after just two innings, leaving the game in the hands of reliever Kyle Cook.

After surrendering a run in the third, Cook hurled three shutout innings to get the win as the Indians (10-7-1, 4-3) found their offense.

“You have to give Hart a lot of credit because when they fell behind. They could have quit,” said Golden Valley head coach Scott Drootin. “Instead, it was our guys who let down. We missed a handful of signals, didn’t play strong defense, and once they got up on us it’s almost like the old mindset of losing kicked in.”

With two outs and still holding a 2-1 lead in the third, thanks to RBIs from Rocky Sherwood and Brandon Kaufman, the Grizzlies (7-9, 2-5) made their first crucial mistake of the day when second baseman Chris Smith fielded a slow-rolling ground ball and threw low to first, pulling Kaufman off the bag and allowing two unearned runs to score and giving Hart the lead it would never relinquish.

“We warned the guys about not letting the last game put them in a different mindset,” Drootin said. “But when things started going wrong we exploded.”

While Golden Valley errors played a role in the outcome, Hart’s heady play also was a major factor. On the play before Smith’s error, Devin Rodriguez singled home a run and took second on a throw to the plate.

“I thought when Devin made a hustle play like that it really changed the game for us,” Ozella said. “Those were the kinds of things that we need to do to make it to the level we expect to play at.”

Rodriguez also thought the play was key to lifting his team’s psyche. He also eliminated a potential force play on the grounder to Smith that would have possibly ended the inning.

“I was trying to light a spark for us,” Rodriguez said. “There were two outs so I wanted to get the run home, but then I saw a chance for us to gain the momentum so I took it.”

Golden Valley starter Scott Barlow pitched a solid game, allowing three earned runs in four-plus innings, but he tired in the fifth, leaving the game to a Grizzly bullpen that couldn’t keep Hart off the scoreboard.

The Indians plated at least one run in each of its last four frames.

“I felt bad for Barlow because he did a good job, but when you have to make extra pitches you are bound to run out of gas,” Drootin said. “We just need to stick with what we’re doing for the entire game, and those mistakes won’t happen as much. We need to avoid mental breakdowns.”

The Indians were led offensively by two RBIs from Rodriguez and Spenser Souza and three hits from Patrick Valaika, who was moved into the leadoff spot in an attempt to jump start the Indians offense.

“Patrick has batted lead-off for us in summer ball so we knew it would not be anything new for him,” Ozella said. “Right now we are trying to find a way to put together an order that works, and stay relaxed in the field every day like we were today.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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