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Pioneer Valley opens its 2020 season by sweeping Cabrillo

Pioneer Valley opens its 2020 season by sweeping Cabrillo

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Pioneer Valley's David Curiel gets caught in a pickle during Saturday's non-league game against Cabrillo High School.

Pioneer Valley got its 2020 baseball season off to a big start Saturday, sweeping Cabrillo 10-4 and 3-0 in a cross-section doubleheader at Pioneer Valley that marked opening day for both teams.

The Panthers play in the CIF Central Section. The Conquistadores are in the Southern Section.   

Senior right-hander Vince Esparza got the start for Pioneer Valley in the first game, and he went five innings, giving up three runs on eight hits.

The Panthers, taking advantage of three walks, two Cabrillo errors and a passed ball, scored four runs in the third inning of the opener without getting a hit.

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Cabrillo High baserunner Austin Wolf slides into home as Pioneer Valley pitcher Vincent Esparza waits to apply the tag during Saturday's non-league game in Santa Maria.

After the Panthers had a total of two hits over the first three inning, their offense warmed up. Pioneer Valley racked up six hits total their last three at-bats.

"A lot of that was getting the first-game jitters out of the way," said Pioneer Valley coach Cody Smith.

"It took awhile for our players to adjust to someone other than myself or their teammates (pitching) against them. (Our batters) never got away from our approach."

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Pioneer Valley's Richard Robles takes a lead off first base during Saturday's non-league game against Cabrillo High.

Adrian Valdovinos went 6 1/3 innings for the Panthers in the second game, giving up four hits, striking out four and walking just two. Vincent Valdez got the last two outs to earn the save. 

"We're emphasizing playing multiple positions to our guys this year," Smith said after the opener, and the Panthers did plenty of that Saturday.  

Pioneer  Valley catcher Valdez and starting first baseman Richie Robles drove in two runs apiece for the Panthers in the opener. Valdez and lead-off batter Nick Vasquez had two hits each for Pioneer Valley.

After coming on in relief of Esparza, Robles retired the Conquistadores in order in the sixth inning, the first time Cabrillo went out 1-2-3.

In the top of the seventh, Vicente Concola drove home AJ Simmons with an infield single for the Conquistadores. The game ended when Concola, leading off first base, seemed to turn his ankle and was slow getting up. The Pioneer Valley first baseman, after taking the throw from Valdez, gently applied the tag for the last out.

"I hope the young man can continue," Smith said after the opener. After the game, Concola seemed to be walking much better than he was when he was injured.

Austin Wolfe had two hits for Cabrillo in the opener. Seven other Conqs had one hit, and four Cabrillo players had an RBI.

"We hit the ball well," in the opener, said Cabrillo coach Cole Osborne, a former Cabrillo player who is in his first year as the team's coach. His father, Jonathan Osborne, the program's former long-time coach, stepped down at the end of last season.

Besides three errors in the opener, the Panthers took advantage of numerous Cabrillo passed balls.

His team's defense, Cole Osborne said after the opener, will sort itself out."This was the first game," he said.

Josiah Urbana was 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored for the Panthers in the second game. Brendan Manriquez went 3-for-3 in the Panthers' 11-hit attack.

Esparza and Jesus Renteria had two hits each for Pioneer Valley in  the second game. Renteria scored a run.

Cabrillo will play a cross-section game at Arroyo Grande at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Pioneer Valley will host Templeton in a non-league game at the same time.

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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