Warriors slow Shorthorn bats in victory
March 19, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2012 at 10:19 p.m.
Grand opening. Grand closing.
That is what Zach Valenzuela did to lift Victoria West to its fifth win in six games Monday night.
The senior shortstop led off the Warriors' game against Schulenburg with a single. Six innings later he shut the door on the Shorthorns with a perfect seventh to earn his third save of the season in West's 6-4 victory at Riverside Stadium.
Valenzuela scored in the bottom of the first when Mike Mikulenka lined a ball that the Schulenburg shortstop could not handle. He reached base in three of his four plate appearances and scored two runs.
"It felt good finally getting back at them. We had rough going in the first game so it feels good to beat them and win five out of our last six. .Our defense kind of struggled, but our timely hitting and our pitching did a good job."
Schulenburg beat West 12-11 when the two teams met Feb. 23 at a tournament in Columbus. Unlike that contest, when the Warriors did not relinquish the lead Monday night, despite allowing two unearned runs and allowing another to score on a passed ball.
Schulenburg (6-6, 3-1 district) also delegated the pitching duties as they wanted a tune-up game before continuing their District 28-2A schedule.
"We didn't compete well," said Schulenburg head coach Karl Saenz. "We were sloppy in the field and when have more errors than hits against a team like them you're not going to win. That's a good ball club. We wanted to come play them because they get us ready for district."
West (6-7) used five pitchers Monday night because they wanted their staff to get some innings before Friday's district opener vs. Calhoun. Miles Manning pitched the first two innings for West before being relieved by Shane Kallman, Austen Davis, Colin Payne and the spark plug at shortstop.
The Warriors committed three errors for the third straight game. Head coach Manuel Alvarado said his team must shore up its defense as the non-district season concludes.
"We need to learn how to eliminate the big inning defensively," Alvarado said. "We have to focus a little bit more on defense and making plays when they are there. It's something we have to overcome by Friday. We have to have people who are out there who want the ball."
Schulenburg was held to three hits on the evening. The third was a triple from catcher Wesley Kutac in the top of the sixth to drive in Rylan Sternadel and cut the deficit to 5-4.
Not even the speedy Seth Harrison could track down the Kutac drive to centerfield. However, senior made a pinpoint relay throw and the Warriors were able to pickoff the sophomore between third and home.
To ensure the play didn't matter, Manning led off the bottom of the sixth with a home run just in front of the scoreboard in left field to plate the Warriors sixth run. It was the sixth straight game Manning either scored a run or drove in a RBI.
Schulenburg head coach Karl Saenz said Manning's biggest impact is on the mound. When Schulenburg has won this season, they have produced on average more than 10 hits. The quintet of Warriors held them to three.
"That first pitcher they had is pretty dang good. He's one of the best we have seen all year. Our bats have come along lately, but we still have to get better at the plate. But, their pitching had a little bit to do with that."