Blazing Canyons Stays Hot, Rallies Past Valley, 10-9

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Chris Johnson, Valley College baseball coach, said Canyons "clutched up" Saturday, and the Cougars are, indeed, in high gear.

Trailing by two runs and facing Valley's ace pitcher, visiting Canyons scored three runs in the top of the ninth to win, 10-9, and pick up its seventh victory in its past eight games. Canyons has won four Western State Conference games in four days and came from behind to win the past three.

Canyons (7-9-1 overall, 4-0 in conference play) trailed, 5-1, after three innings and 9-7 entering the ninth.

"We did not show up to play today," said Canyons Coach Len Mohney, whose team played four conference games in as many days because of rainouts. "I don't know how many guys on this team have ever played four in a row at that level."

Valley reliever Steve Trainor appeared on target for his fifth victory in five decisions when Jon Beauchemin tomahawked a two-run single to tie the score, 9-9, with no one out in the ninth. Trainor (4-1), a left-hander, struck out the next two batters, but Richard Avalos singled to left to score pinch-runner Josh Bergara with the winning run.

Avalos and Beauchemin saved Canyons with their arms as well as their bats, and both were playing unlikely roles. Canyons' regular third baseman last season, Beauchemin was moved to left field four games ago.

In the seventh, Beauchemin threw out Joe Ishikawa at home to prevent what would have been Valley's 10th run but was instead the third out of the inning.

Avalos earned his first WSC start at catcher when he replaced regular Jon Strauss, who missed the game for personal reasons.

Avalos snuffed a rally by Valley (5-12-1, 2-3) in the ninth by throwing out the speedy Conrad Caraballo on a steal attempt. Caraballo was perfect on seven steal attempts entering the game, but Avalos bounced him by bouncing a throw to shortstop Walter White.

Canyons had brought in its top starter, Roland De La Maza, to pitch the ninth, and De La Maza faced only three batters to pick up his first save of the season. Shawn Bowen (1-1) earned the victory in relief of starter Mitch Bowen.

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