By Rob Potter
ELDRED May 20, 2003 The Tri-Valley Bears certainly took advantage of the opportunity to bat first in Fridays non-league baseball game at Eldred.
T-V sent 12 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning and scored six runs. Thanks to the early lead and quality pitching by Rob Gruenfelder, the Bears went on to record a 13-1 victory over the Yellowjackets.
Gruenfelder helped his own cause in that first inning. An error and two walks enabled the first three T-V batters to reach base when Gruenfelder, who was batting clean-up, stepped to the plate. He connected with a pitch from Eldreds Patrick Kean, sending the ball over the fence in right center field for a grand slam home run.
Later in the inning, T-Vs Kevin Hornbeck singled to bring Ryan Briggs and Matt Calabrese in to score and make it a 6-0 game.
T-V (7-7) added a run in the second on an error and a pair of runs in the sixth on an RBI double by Gruenfelder and sacrifice fly by Briggs. Calabrese ripped a two-run double in the seventh, when the Bears scored four runs.
That definitely helped when we were able to score some runs in the first, T-V Coach John Rusin said. And we were able to get some runs in the late innings. I think being able to score all those runs gave Rob a lot of confidence when he was on the mound.
Gruenfelder allowed only three hits and struck out 16 batters in limiting the Yellowjackets to just one run. That run came in the fourth inning when Devin Weyant ripped a double to center field that brought Mike Prunka in to score.
He pitched a great game, Rusin said of his senior hurler. He was able to use his other pitches well and get outs with his fastball. He spotted the ball well and he and [catcher] Matt [Calabrese] worked well together out there.
With the loss, Eldred dropped to 2-9 on the season.
Our main problem is that we had four games in row so now we have these younger kids pitching, Eldred Coach Frank Kean said. The older kids on the other teams are able to handle them and hit their pitches.
Kean noted that the Yellowjackets are an extremely young team. There are nine freshmen on the roster and five of them started against T-V.
Well get there, Kean said. The kids are still working hard to improve. Next year, well be a team to be reckoned with.