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Field in a fog, but Del Norte pitcher clears things up

04/24/2013, 9:55pm PDT
By John Maffei

Complete-game, five-hitter allows Nighthawks to remain undefeated in Valley League.

— On a cold, misty, foggy day that was built for alibis, the Del Norte High baseball team lived up to its “No Excuses” motto.

The Nighthawks beat the elements and Valley Center 3-2 Wednesday in a key Valley League game that was more fitting for ducks than baseball.

“It was so misty and windy, I was kind of playing a rover position,” Del Norte center field Matt Miller said after his team improved to 15-5 overall and 7-0 in league play while Valley Center slipped to 12-8, 3-4.

“The other two outfielders were really having trouble seeing the ball, so I had to take over.”

Miller had four of the five outfield putouts. Plus, he walked and scored a run in the third inning and drove a long home run to center field in the fifth.

“This team scratches and fights to the last out,” Miller said. “This game was a total team effort. I walked and scored a run, but Brady Groesbeck had a great sacrifice bunt.

“We played errorless defense. And Stephen (Xirinachs) put us on his back and carried us to this win.”

Xirinachs pitched a complete-game five-hitter, striking out five and walking just one. After retiring 11 of 12 hitters, he was stressed in the sixth when Cole Howard started the inning for Valley Center with a walk and Austin Bernard doubled him home.

Brett Henderson moved Bernard to third. But with one out, Xirinachs got UC San Diego-bound Steven Coe to pop up and DH Kyle Morgan on a ground out.

“I’ve played with him and know Coe is a great hitter,” Xirinachs said. “I really had to focus on him. My slider was really working today, but I got Steven on a high fastball. That was the key batter in the game.”

Valley Center coach Ron Sisler agreed.

“One out, runner on third, infield playing up late in a one-run game, Steven Coe is the guy we want up there,” Sisler said. “The conditions were really bad, but give their pitcher credit. He kept us off balance.

“Del Norte is a good team. We play them in a doubleheader Saturday and have to sweep the series to have a chance to win the league. They just know how to win.”

The Nighthawks have three one-run wins, and a pair of two-run wins.

“We’ve played a lot of close, low-scoring games,” said Del Norte coach Rielly Embrey. “There is a lot of parity in our league, but these guys compete like crazy.”

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