Four Wolverine pitchers combined to throw five innings of one-hit baseball against Ygnacio Valley. Senior Daniel Morton got the start and pitched two strong innings, striking out five without allowing a hit. Calvin Foster, Jared Denham and Jordan Thull each threw a scoreless inning in relief to preserve the shutout.
Run support certainly wasn't an issue against the Warriors, as Deer Valley exploded for 13 runs in the opening frame. Denham, the only returning everyday player from last year's team, led the hit parade, going 3-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored and two RBIs. Sophomore catcher Michael Leal, who entered the batter's box hitting just .143 (2-14), went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. Thull and junior corner infielder Dante Redhead each went 1-for-2, Thull doubling and scoring twice and Redhead driving in a pair.
Down 13-0 and having been dominated through four and a half innings, Ygnacio Valley conceded the game after the top of the fifth, giving Deer Valley its first league win of the year.
A shutout win was exactly what the Wolverines needed. Head coach Dennis Luquet had been concerned about his team's struggles on the mound and in the field, and allowing just one hit against Ygnacio Valley ought to go a long way in restoring the confidence of a team that has struggled to make routine plays.
Although the Deer Valley roster is senior-heavy, the team doesn't have much collective varsity experience. Most of the players either competed at the JV level or played sparingly on last year's talented varsity squad, and Luquet is hopeful that Tuesday's blowout win is a sign that his team has turned the corner in its adjustment to varsity competition.
"The biggest adjustment is dealing with the pressure," said Luquet. "When somebody makes an error, the next guy has to get it done and pick up his teammate, and that doesn't always happen. Errors in key situations are leading to big innings. We seem to have a combination of a walk, a hit and an error all in the same inning. The other teams aren't starting rallies; we're starting rallies for them."
Deer Valley got bad news about its top pitcher recently, when junior Austin Wiggins revealed that he'd been diagnosed with a fracture in the elbow of his throwing arm and that he would be forced to sit out the rest of the season. Wiggins threw eight innings in two appearances this season, striking out eight and walking five on his way to a 2.63 ERA.
The Wolverines played a big game against cross-town rival Antioch on Thursday after the Press went to print, and head to Southern California for the Righetti Spring Classic tournament next week before returning to BVAL play Tuesday, April 1, with a 4 p.m. game at Clayton Valley.