Yucaipa High School baseball Coach Ralph Grajeda and pitching Coach Kevin Halamicek didn’t think Tyson Heaton had his best stuff in a 4-0 win over visiting Huntington Beach Edison High School last Thursday. Heaton pitched a two-hit shutout allowing YHS to advance to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section, Division 1 playoffs where it traveled five days later to Valencia West Ranch, owners of a 24-5 record and No. 12 ranking. YHS is at 25-5, and ranked No. 5.
Heaton said he was able to breathe easier when his team scored three runs in the second inning. Heaton seemed to have a good fastball, yet said it was his curve and cutter that proved successful.
“The mound was giving me some trouble,” said Heaton who improved to 10-1 by pitching his sixth shutout and eighth complete game of the season. He struck out five, walked two and let his defense do the rest.
Edison pitcher Caden Aoki and his athletic director Rich Boyce said Heaton and company are right up there with the best in Orange County.
“I threw everything at them,” said Aoki. “They are a great hitting team who don’t chase bad pitches. Plus, there is no centerfielder (Julian Alvarez) in Orange County who can make those plays.”
Aoki recovered after YHS took the 3-0 lead. He went the distance, yielded eight hits, walked one and hit Alvarez with the bases loaded. Jordan Andrade followed by driving in another run with a sacrifice fly. Trent Luther capped the third inning with a single to drive in Danny Garcia who had doubled. Luther and Anthony Gibbons both went 2-for-3.
The bottom of Yucaipa’s order provided insurance in the sixth inning when Keyton Dawson laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Luther and Gibbons to second and third with no outs. Joseph Lomeli then hit a sac fly to score pinch runner Brayden Reed.
“I don’t think we played that well,” said Grajeda. “After we got to their pitcher we started swinging for the fences. We have to get back to what we did last year. We’ll be working on bunting.”
YHS catcher Michael Carpentier agreed that his team must execute better. “We need to be more energetic in the dugout,” hes said. “Yes, that does make a difference.”
Grajeda said traveling the 100-miles to Valencia will give West Ranch an advantage. “We have similar records, have faced similar opponents and they won the National Baseball Classic tournament, so we can’t take them lightly. I expect a dogfight.”
YHS and West Ranch both defeated South Hills and Foothill. YHS defeated Simi Valley and the Wildcats did not. The winner of the YHS/West Ranch game played the winner of the Capistrano Valley/Cypress game on May 10.
Grajeda said, “We are prepared but respect West Ranch. We take seriously the legacy of Yucaipa baseball and we want to keep that legacy alive.”