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Baseball: Riding sharp, offense awakens for Pahrump Valley

A week ago, Pahrump Valley senior Jake Riding didn’t give up a run until the seventh inning and lost. On Wednesday, two of the first three batters scored off of Riding, so naturally he and the Trojans won by the mercy rule.

Riding tossed a 2-hitter, sophomore Kyle McDaniel belted a tying 2-run home run and eight Trojans scored at least once as Pahrump Valley snapped a 4-game losing streak in emphatic fashion, rolling past Moapa Valley 13-3 in a 6-inning game at Rod Poteete Memorial Field.

It was the Pirates who got off to a fast start, with a walk, a sacrifice, a triple to right-center and an infield grounder giving the visitors an early 2-0 lead.

“Early on in the game he was up in the zone, and after the first inning we came and talked,” Trojans assistant coach Drew Middleton said. “The umpire wasn’t giving him anything letter high, and I told him I really don’t care. We have to be down in the zone anyway. After that he adjusted, he got back around the knees and did what he needed the rest of the game.”

“I really just worked down and away,” Riding said. “I was trying to work the zone, get them to chase, nothing too good over the plate. I was trying to keep it off their barrel.”

It worked well enough that after that triple, Riding allowed only an infield single the rest of the way, recording 9 strikeouts, walking two and getting seven ground-ball outs.

“What Jake’s doing really well right now is he can throw all of his pitches at any point,” Middleton said. “He’s locating all three pitches. Against Boulder City (last week), his change-up was his best pitch. … Today it wasn’t exactly there, but he mixed in his curve ball really well and kept them off balance.”

During one stretch, Riding retired 15 of 16 Pirates, getting the side in order during the third, fourth and fifth innings. But Riding pitching well was not a surprise; scoring 13 runs, getting 10 hits and making productive outs marked a needed breakout for the Trojans’ offense.

“The last few games we’ve been kind of iffy with our at-bats, and (Tuesday) in practice we spent the whole time working on jobs — moving runners over, bunting, stuff like that,” Riding said.

“Coach (Brian) Hayes talks about quality at-bats all the time,” Middleton said. “We’ve been working so much on just getting hits we kind of lost the aspect of quality at-bats. Today we strung together a lot of quality at-bats, and that produced runs.”

The Trojans drew 7 walks off of four Moapa Valley pitchers, were plunked twice — both times it was sophomore Sean Owens, and both times in the middle of a rally — hit two sacrifice flies and twice drove in runs with infield outs. There were also 9 stolen bases,and Scott Hirschi scored on a balk caused by Fidel Betancourt taking off early on an attempted steal of second.

Hirschi and McDaniel each scored 3 runs, leadoff batter James Metscher had 2 singles and 4 RBIs, freshman DH Justin Ybarra hit an RBI double, and junior catcher Coby Tillery singled three times and scored twice. The Trojans received contributions from just about everybody while using a lineup with five sophomores.

“It was definitely a must-win,” Middleton said. “But with just how bad we’ve struggled offensively the last week and a half, two weeks, it was really important today to come out and hit the ball as well as we did. Our top three guys have been hitting, it’s been the rest of the lineup that’s been worrisome. Today, we came out and crushed the baseball.”

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