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Foothill baseball: The encore

Golden Valley baseball beats Valencia for first time ever

Posted: April 21, 2010 10:44 p.m.
Updated: April 22, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley's Brandon Smith celebrates his seventh-inning home run with his teammates at home plate.

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At what point should Golden Valley baseball be considered more than just a novelty act?

"Today," said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder.

The Grizzlies, after beating Foothill League title-contender West Ranch twice last week, defeated mighty Valencia, the league's No. 1 team and the valley's best program over the last 10 years, 7-6 at Valencia High on Wednesday.

It is the first win in Golden Valley baseball history against Valencia.

"Our guys were not going to get pushed around," said Golden Valley head coach Scott Drootin. "Our kids needed to believe in themselves."

They surely did.

After blowing a 4-0 lead and letting Valencia pull into the top of the seventh inning with a 6-4 advantage, the Grizzlies cut the lead to 6-5 on an RBI groundout by Tanner Swire.

But with one on and two out, Grizzlies designated hitter Brandon Smith was down to his last strike against Valencia's Shane Zeile.

On a 3-and-2 count, Smith sent a hard Zeile offering over the left-field fence for a two-run home run and a 7-6 lead.

"As soon as it came off my bat, you know how sometimes you have a feeling?" Smith said.

What Golden Valley (9-9, 4-4) has done in the last three games is something that has rarely been seen in Santa Clarita sports - a team going from downtrodden and dominated to confident and beating the best in a flash.

The Grizzlies lost their first four league games by a combined score of 64-20.

After losing to West Ranch on March 31 and just before spring break, Drootin said he'd hate to be the team that played the Grizzlies after the break.

Since that day, the team has reeled off four straight league victories.

"I just had a feeling," Drootin said about his comment. "I blame myself for the defense being bad. I made a pact with the team that we'd work harder."

It wasn't easy on Wednesday.

The Grizzlies built their 4-0 lead on the back of rough pitching by Valencia (11-8-1, 6-2).

Golden Valley batters walked six times in the first three innings.

Valencia starter Nick Rivas couldn't get out of the first inning, allowing an RBI sacrifice fly to Josh Smith, then allowing runs on a bases-loaded hit batsman and a walk.

Rivas' successor, Devin Matson, toed a minefield in the second inning and walked the leadoff batter in the third.

He was pulled in favor of Jake Roberge, who surrendered an RBI-sacrifice fly to Rocky Sherwood to put the Grizzlies up 4-0 in the third.

From there, Roberge was stellar.

He shut the Grizzlies down from that point until the seventh inning, when he was pulled in favor of Zeile.

While Roberge held the Grizzlies down, Quincy Quintero pulled the Vikings up on offense.

He hit a two-run single in the third inning and tied things up with a two-run double in the fifth.

Alex Lightfoot would give Valencia the 5-4 lead with an RBI single later in the fifth.

Quintero walked with the bases loaded to put the Vikings up 6-4 in the sixth.

Golden Valley managed to get out of the sixth with the bases loaded when Viking Brian Mundell grounded to shortstop Jon Granado, who kicked the ball to second where Swire collected it and stepped on the bag for the force out.

The play, though, sent the Vikings' dugout into a rage, as it was close.

It wasn't the only call umpires struggled with Wednesday afternoon.

In fact, the umpires struggled all game with calls on both sides.

Zeile was even hit by a pitch at one point, yet the home plate umpire didn't see it.

Brandon Smith even thought the 3-1 pitch before his home run was a ball, as he started to make a move to first base.

Before that, the Grizzlies cut Valencia's lead to 6-5 after Josh Smith's leadoff double was cashed in on the Swire groundout.

Roberge then walked Anthony San Miguel and Valencia turned to Zeile.

"We just thought Jake got tired," Snyder said. "He did everything he was supposed to do."

The same could be said about Golden Valley starter Scott Barlow, who went six innings, topped the 100-pitch mark and kept his team in the game throughout.

He paved the way for Josh Smith to close out the game, which he did by striking Zeile out with Valencia's Alex Bishop on second base.

These same two teams will meet on Friday with Golden Valley looking to further establish itself and Valencia looking to bounce back.

Will there be an encore?

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