Jaxson Otis wasn’t slated to be Spring Valley’s ace. But that hasn’t stopped the senior right-hander from pitching like one.
Otis pitched a three-hit shutout Tuesday to lead the seventh-ranked Grizzlies to a 4-0 road baseball victory over No. 5 Desert Oasis.
“That’s a good lineup over there,” Spring Valley coach Paul Bassett said. “He did a real good job today of moving the ball in and out, and that was the key.”
Otis improved to 5-0. He’s allowed one run in 28 innings for a 0.25 ERA.
“I think I’ve just been throwing two pitches for strikes, keeping people off balance and hitting my spots,” Otis said.
That formula, along with keeping the ball down in the zone, worked perfectly for Otis on Tuesday. He had three strikeouts but recorded 14 ground-ball outs, including two inning-ending double plays.
“He’s a sinkerballer,” Bassett said. “He likes to keep the ball down in the zone. And against that team that can hit the ball for some power and move some runners and do a lot of small ball, you’ve got to keep the leadoff runner off base, and that’s what he did today.”
All four Spring Valley runs came in the third, as the Grizzlies (13-3, 9-2 Southwest League) finally got to Desert Oasis starter Aaron Roberts. Nick Rupp led off with an infield single, and Otis and Jack Sellinger followed with consecutive doubles to give Spring Valley a 2-0 lead.
Roberts walked the next three batters to force in a run, and Humberto Maldonado hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 4-0.
“We swung at strikes and took a more simple approach and hit with runners in scoring position,” Otis said.
The Grizzlies made one error, but were generally strong defensively behind Otis. Along with the two double plays, Otis’ younger brother, Mitchell, made a diving catch at second base to rob Jordan DeMarce of a hit in the third.
“Jaxson’s not going to get a ton of strikeouts, so we’ve got to play defense behind him,” Bassett said. “We made the routine plays when we needed to make them and kept them from building a big inning and coming back on us.”
The win gave Spring Valley two out of three in the league series against the Diamondbacks (11-4, 7-3).
“I think this was a huge series for us,” Jaxson Otis said. “We’ll have a lot more confidence going forward.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.