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Valencia baserunning shines in 11-6 win over Canyon

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By Justin Vigil-Zuniga  

For The Signal 

The Valencia Vikings defeated the Canyon Cowboys in their second consecutive league game against one another. 

Valencia (4-3, 2-0) ran the bases exceptionally, capitalizing on every Canyon (0-7, 0-2) fielding error and wild pitch while testing Cowboys’ catcher Jake Milak with stolen bases all game, en route to an 11-6 win.  

Canyon jumped up quickly, scoring three in the first, but Valencia’s Noah Nichols answered with a three-run homer to left field. Nichols finished 1-2 with 4 RBI and a walk. 

The box score of each team remained identical early on, with Valencia matching all of Canyon’s runs. Each team scored three runs in the first, none in the second and one in the third. The Vikings then took control of the game in the fourth. 

Canyon High third baseman Austin Hernandez (24) makes the tag on Valencia runner Jake Stich (12) as he tries to steal third base at Valencia High School on Thursday, 040121. Dan Watson/The Signal

First relief pitcher Tyler Biggs retired the side, striking out all three Canyon batters in the top of the fourth. Biggs finished the game with four strikeouts. 

Valencia batters went through the lineup and would then score four runs to take an 8-4 lead. The frenzy was highlighted by Vikings centerfielder Scottie Pieper stealing home for the seventh Valencia run. 

“The catcher wasn’t looking at the field, the pitcher was looking the other way and the third baseman was looking the other way,” said Pieper. “I saw an opportunity, so i took it. Fortunately, I was safe.” 

The game was nearly an identical score of Tuesday’s league matchup between the two, which Valencia won 11-5. 

“We’ve put (up) a lot of runs, we’ve been working counts, drawing a lot of walks,” said Valencia head coach Mike Killinger. “Then getting key hits when necessary. We’ve been running the bases really well and creating lots of opportunities.”  

Canyon High pitcher Frank Boyce (22) pitches against Valencia High at Valencia High School on Thursday, 040121. Dan Waton/The Signal

Canyon would capitalize as much as they could as well. The Cowboys chased Vikings starting pitcher Matt Chapman out of the game in the third after he allowed a run and five walks in the inning alone.  

Biggs would get into his own jam in the top of the fifth, allowing two runs. Killinger would call upon relief pitcher Kaden Shields for just one out with the bases loaded with the lead in jeopardy. Shields delivered on a strikeout. 

“Normally, I am one of those guys that throws in the later innings,” said Shields, “[a guy] who just comes in and shuts it down, and that’s what I felt like I did today.” 

Shields would finish the game and shut down the Canyon offense through 2 1/3.  

The atmosphere was tense during this loud game. Both benches were talking all game to opposing pitchers and batters, doing anything to get in the mind of their opposition. 

Valencia High baserunner Jake Stich (12) beats the tag by Canyon High’s Travis Enbody (15) at second base at Valencia High School on Thursday, 040121. Dan Watson/The Signal

“We’re a big talking team,” said Shields. “We like getting in their heads and stuff like that, especially with their catcher.” 

The Cowboys are still looking for their first win of the season and will now have over a week off before returning to face Valencia again. 

Meanwhile, the Vikings will face Hart on Saturday. Valencia will look to even the score against the Indians, who won the last matchup in extra innings. With the team scoring 28 runs in their last three games, their offense looks to improve and keep rolling into the next matchup. 

“We’re one of those teams where when you get going, you don’t stop,” said Nichols. 

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