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The hits aren’t coming for Valley Christian - yet

Lions have size and arms but are searching for their swing
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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As the smallest school in the Sac-Joaquin Section, Valley Christian Academy has a Division VII label attached.

But the enrollment is the only thing small about coach Brad Gunter Jr.’s baseball squad this season, and everyone in the other dugout knows it: Whitney, Pioneer, Vista del Lago, Inderkum, Rosemont, everyone.

The Lions’ roster is loaded with big-school size: 14 of their 18 players are 6 feet or taller. They have a 1-2 pitching duo in 6-6 senior southpaw Jimmy Shaw and 6-2 junior right-hander Jeremiah Moore that any squad in the Sacramento area would cherish, enrollment and division status be darned.

Gunter didn’t accidentally schedule a string of area stalwarts for nonleague play. And because Valley Christian has won four of the last five Division VII section banners, the Lions are seeing several aces take the hill against them.

That was the case — again — Tuesday, when Grant trotted out senior right-hander Brandon Nunn, who has a full physique to go with his 6-2 height, pounds the zone with a 90-mph heater and mixes an over-the-top bender as an accompaniment. In other words, scouts have their eyes on the kid. It was either Nunn or crafty junior strikeout machine Cameron Avila-Leeper.

What the Lions (6-4) haven’t done to this point is hit, and that was the difference in a 3-1 loss to the football-famous Pacers. Nunn’s one-hitter with 12 strikeouts bested Shaw’s six-inning gem — a mere two hits allowed and 12 strikeouts of his own.

Gunter has located the problem.

“We average 10 strikeouts a game,” he said. “The problem is, this is every game. We’re waiting for kids to step up, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The Lions have been relegated to hitting in cages because their yard isn’t yet playable after having the infield hydro-sodded. As a result, the Lions aren’t making adjustments. Nunn threw a here-it-comes curve while ahead in the count Tuesday, and the Lions couldn’t hit it. Some couldn’t swing at it.

“It’s huge. No adjustments,” Gunter said. “All pattern swings.”

That said, it’s early. And for a team that the last five years has hit, from 2008 through last season, .351, .365, .367, .308 and .343 with 109 home runs, the safe bet is that the pattern will change.

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.