VCA's Cordell strong in Granite Bay tourney opener

By: Kurt Johnson, senior sports editor
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Three unearned runs were enough to doom the Valley Christian Academy baseball team Monday as the Lions dropped a tough 3-2 decision to Bella Vista in the opening game of pool play at the Granite Bay Spring Break Tournament. “Ryan (Cordell) was outstanding on the mound for us,” said Valley Christian coach Brad Gunter. “They got those three unearned runs on a couple of misplayed balls in the outfield, but nothing else against him.” The Lions got the tying run as far as third base in the seventh, but a fly ball out ended the threat and the game. Cordell went the distance on the bump for VCA, and kept his team in the game against a talented Bronco squad. Junior Casas had a pair of doubles for the Lions, and Justin Reiner also had two knocks as Valley Christian banged out seven hits on the day. The second game of the day was a disaster for the Lions, if the score alone is used as an indicator. Valley Christian stranded 11 runners over the six inning contest, and left the bags juiced three times as it lost to defending Division II section champion Ponderosa 12-2. VCA, itself the defending Division VII winner, managed eight hits against the Bruins, but could not deliver when run-scoring chances were present. “We had chances but could not get the big hit,” Gunter said. “They always seemed to get that hit when they needed it.” Ponderosa scored seven runs in the second inning to put the pressure on Valley Christian, and the result was missed offensive chances and sloppy defensive execution by the Lions. A Cordell base hit scored David Risucci with the Lions’ first run in the bottom of the third, after Valley Christian had left them loaded in the second. After Ponderosa responded with a single run in the top of the fourth, VCA filled the bags again in the home half, but could not touch the plate. The Bruins essentially put the game on ice with a three-run fifth inning outburst to take a 10-run lead, but the Lions extended the game by scoring once in the bottom of that stanza. Once again, it was an inning that could have reaped bigger rewards for Valley Christian, as it had the bases full with just one out, and then scored when a hit batter forced one home. The next two batters were retired on strikes, and when Ponderosa scored one in the sixth, it was enough to cement a 10-run margin and invoke the mercy rule without continuing on to the seventh stanza. Reiner gutted it out, going the distance on the hill for Valley Christian, as the Lions sought to save pitching for the final two days of the tourney. Paul Finnell had three hits and Cordell two to pace the VCA offense. The Lions were back in action in day two of the tourney on Tuesday, facing El Camino in a morning game at Granite Bay High.