Saturday, April 27, 2013

Paloma Valley Beats Heritage in Pitchers' Duel at Storm Stadium

Dario Haro connects on a Tony Martinez pitch for a double to lead off the decisive ninth inning Friday night.
Combine two crosstown rivals, a pair of dominating pitchers and the energized environment of a pro baseball stadium, and you get quite a ballgame.

That's what the fans saw Friday night at Lake Elsinore Storm Stadium, where Paloma Valley High School went extra innings to defeat rival Heritage High, 3-0. The game was scoreless until Josh Arvizu singled home two runs in the top of the ninth inning against Heritage pitcher Tony Martinez, who went the distance and allowed only four hits through the first eight innings.

Paloma Valley starter Gabe Greenbank (right) was even sharper, allowing no hits until the Patriots' Adrian Benitez led off the eighth inning with a ground ball up the middle. Heritage later had two runners on with one out and a chance to win the game, but Greenbank responded by striking out the next two batters, sending the game scoreless into the ninth.

The Wildcats finally got to Martinez (below left) in the top of the ninth, sparked by a leadoff double by Dario Haro, a single by Cody McCoy, Benitez's two-run single and an RBI single by Nick Salazar. Haro then relieved Greenbank in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Patriots in order to end the game.

"I think we gave 'em their five bucks' worth," Paloma Valley coach Chuck Kemp said, referring to the fans' admission price into a stadium these teams get to use only once per season.

Paloma Valley remained undefeated in the Sunbelt League at 10-0 and is 15-6 overall with five games left in the regular season. Heritage dropped to 4-7 and 8-13. It certainly didn't seem like a mismatch as the scoreless innings piled up, however.

"This is a dream come true, a once in a lifetime experience for young guys like this," Heritage coach Scott Montgomery said before the game. "Any time you get two teams from the same town, natural rivals in a top-notch facility like this, the excitement level goes up."

Greenbank improved his season record to 5-0, tops on the Paloma Valley staff, relying almost strictly on an overpowering fastball to silence the Heritage bats. He allowed only two baserunners through the first seven innings -- Adrian Gonzales on an error in the second inning and a walk to Isaac Gonzalez with two outs in the fifth.

"This is probably the best game I've pitched," Greenbank said. "My fastball is what I mainly stuck with. I threw a few curveballs, but I just couldn't get on top of them, so I stuck with the fastball."

Greenbank said he wasn't thinking about the no-hitter in the later innings and he wasn't upset when Kemp called upon Haro to pitch the last inning.

"I knew Dario was gonna take over and I knew he'd pitch exactly the way he pitched," Greenbank said. "Just as long as the team gets the win. My mentality is, we win as a team and we lose as a team."

Arvizu, a junior who came into the game hitting .379, drove a Martinez pitch into center field with one out in the ninth, scoring pinch runner Alex Patterson and Matt Orzech. Patterson was running for Haro, who opened the inning with a double that short-hopped the wall in left-center field.

Arvizu said that facing Martinez is never an easy task. The last time Martinez and Greenbank hooked up, the game went extra innings as well, with Paloma eventually scoring a 4-1 victory.

"He's a good pitcher," Arvizu said about Martinez. "He really hits his spots. He has a real good off-speed pitch and he mixes in the fastball.

"Winning games like this builds our momentum. Having rivals with two aces going just makes it that much bigger."

Josh Arvizu of the Wildcats follows through on his swing for a two-run single.

Adrian Benitez stands at first base after collecting Heritage's first hit, a single in the eighth inning.

Heritage's Adrian Gonzales hustles back to first base on a pickoff play in the second inning.


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