Deer Valley ace Joshua Eagle got a measure of revenge on Heritage, which had handed Eagle his only loss of the season in their first meeting. Last week Eagle pitched a complete game while allowing only five hits and striking out 12.
Deer Valley Manager Dennis Luquet compared Eagle to one of the best pitchers who has come through his program, Daniel Denham. “Denham was just dominant – 96 miles per hour,” said Luquet. “Eagle is probably the best in terms of consistency; he’s ahead of every batter. I think he was down 3-0 only one time. He just throws strikes; he makes you have to hit the ball, and he’s not going to walk you. He set the school record today: 11 wins on the season.”
The Wolverines got on the board early, scoring three runs in the first inning and two in the second. They squelched whatever comeback hopes the Patriots entertained when they scored eight runs in the fifth.
It was the worst game of the season for Heritage, which committed nine errors and was shut out for the first time this season for its first league loss and fourth loss overall. The only offense the Patriots could muster was a pair of hits from Jeff Casperson, Kevin Harrity, Paul Blackburn, Jordan Heald-Mullins and Ryan Howell – but they left a combined eight runners on base.
The win buoyed Deer Valley’s hopes for success in the playoffs. “Each week we’ve gotten better,” said Luquet. “They beat us the first couple of times and after the last time they beat us, we’ve played really, really well. Hopefully, this will continue on into the playoffs, because this is when you’ve got to keep getting better and better.
“We’ve been scoring a lot of runs. We had 20 against Pitt, 15 against Antioch and 23 against Liberty. And we just said, ‘Hey, they’re not throwing their best pitcher; they’re throwing their sophomore shortstop. So we just need to try not to ump the game, be aggressive and swing the bat, and play hard.’ And we continue to hit the ball pretty good.”
But the skipper knows his team could get even better. “Defensively we need a lot of work; we just keep making errors and that kills us,” said Luquet. “When Eagle pitches, we’re OK because we don’t need to catch too many balls. If 14 of our outs are strikeouts, then we only need to catch seven balls. But when other pitchers pitch, we need to catch more balls, and that’s where we get into trouble.”
Heritage finishes its regular season this week with a game Tuesday at Antioch and a home game Thursday against Liberty. Deer Valley travels to Freedom on Tuesday and hosts Pittsburg in the regular season finale on Thursday.