Starting in a six-run hole was not the way the Edison High baseball team envisioned Wednesday's key Sunset League game at rival Fountain Valley.
Yet, the Chargers knew they had been down before. This is a team that lost its first five league games last year, but ended up tied for second place in league. Edison again dropped its first five league games this season, but again has worked itself back into the playoff picture.
"It's kind of the mindset that we've had for the last couple of weeks," Edison coach Cameron Chinn said. "We're not out of this thing as far as the league and playoffs are concerned. Coming back from a couple of poor innings, we know we're not out of that either."
Chinn called on junior right-hander Kevin Hultgren in the third inning to try to keep the host Barons at bay. Hultgren did just that, pitching five shutout innings.
Meanwhile, Edison's bats came alive. The Chargers stunned Fountain Valley 10-6, moving into a tie for third in league with three games remaining. Both teams are 6-6 in league.
The teams play the rubber match of their season series on Friday at Edison, and it's a big one as they are both going after the third final guaranteed CIF postseason berth from the league. The winner of Friday's game would have the tiebreaker if the teams finished tied in league.
Edison (14-12), which has won five straight games, fell behind 6-0 to Fountain Valley after two innings. Seniors Conrad Villafuerte and Noah Amenta, who both went three for four, each had two-run singles as the Barons (15-10) batted around in the bottom of the second and scored five runs. Edison starting pitcher Matt Swartz's day was done after that.
But Fountain Valley starting pitcher Jackson Ouellette gave up a leadoff double to Nolan Funke in the third inning, then walked Ted Burton and Chase Hanson to load the bases. Connor Aoki had an RBI single before Swartz's single to right scored two more runs. Aoki would then cross home as well on a wild pitch.
After Caden Aoki was hit by a pitch, Fountain Valley coach Deric Yanagisawa pulled Ouellette and inserted Luke Bundesen. With two outs, Blake Norton's single scored Swartz, and suddenly Fountain Valley's lead was just 6-5.
"One of the most important things when your team scores [is that] you've got to go into the next inning and put up a zero," Yanagisawa said. "We did the complete opposite. We scored five runs, then turned around and gave up five runs."
The visitors tied the score at 6-6 in the fourth, as Swartz's RBI single scored Burton, before plating four more runs in the top of the sixth. Hanson's full-count, two-out, bases loaded single scored two, and the runners advanced on the throw home. Both of them also scored on Connor Aoki's infield single.
Hultgren cruised for Edison. He allowed just two hits in his five shutout innings, improving to 4-3 this season. He worked around Villafuerte's leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh, inducing three straight fly balls to center to end the game.
"I just had the mindset of going as long as I could, trying to keep our team in it," Hultgren said. "We were initially down 6-0, so keep it at 6-0 and give us a chance to get back in the game. Our defense did a great job behind me. Our catcher, Connor, did a great job calling the pitches. And the offense did amazing getting us back in the game."
Chinn said he plans to start senior right-handed pitcher Riley Haddon in Friday's game, while Yanagisawa said Fountain Valley will go with senior right-handed pitcher Nathan Wilson.