GARDEN VALLEY — Wednesday’s Golden Sierra-Rio Vista matchup was crucial for the Grizzlies as a win secured a playoff spot.
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Utilizing hustle, determination and effort, the Grizzlies turned back the visiting Rams 8-6 in Sierra Delta League action. The team also picked up a victory via a Highlands forfeit to move to 7-4 in league.
Griz coach Greg Thompson said Wednesday’s key was pitching and the leadership that the seniors brought. Beau Burgess and Tony Ceirante pitched well with Burgess striking three out in the top of the fourth inning.
Rio Vista scored a run in the top of the first inning but the Grizzlies answered as Riley Prine walked to force in Jeffery Khlan and Austin Mason-Burrows drove in Josh Salmonson.
Things picked up for Golden Sierra in the top of the third when two Rio runners were tagged out on the bases and the tide and momentum turned after Burgess struck out the side in the fourth.
In the bottom half, Cameron Stephens and Brayden Ellis reached to open and an RBI by Salmonson, two by Nick White and a double by Mason-Burrows highlighted a five-run inning that saw Stephens, Salmonson, Ellis, White, and Prine score for a 7-2 advantage.
The Rams countered with two but Ceirante came in to squelch the uprising thanks to the defense of Lencioni, White and Salmonson.
Ellis’ steal of second base and subsequent run padded the Grizzlies lead in the fifth. In the sixth and seventh, Prine’s catch and Ceirante’s three strikeouts to end it put Golden Sierra into the playoffs.
“That gave us the spark and we started hitting the ball,” said White who also addressed a double play he started after a catch to nail a runner on the base paths. “That was key because we had one out and runners in scoring position and a hit would have given Rio the lead. So I threw him out from third and from deep center field, to get us out of the inning harmlessly.”