Green Valley senior pitcher Daniel Levine said his stuff on Wednesday was “mediocre.”
Don’t tell that to Rancho, though.
Levine limited the Rams to four hits and junior Bobby Shiroky hit a two-run homer to lead host Green Valley to a 3-1 win in the Sunrise Region baseball tournament.
It was the first loss in the tournament for Northeast League No. 2 seed Rancho (27-7), which will play Coronado at 1 p.m. in an elimination game at Green Valley. The Gators (23-10), the top seed from the Southeast League, await the winner at 4 p.m.
“I haven’t thrown in a bit of time and I was rusty, but I battled with what I had,” Levine said. “Luckily, I was able to get the ball to sink a little more and get some ground balls.”
Levine recorded 14 ground-ball outs, including two in the top of the second inning that helped him escape a jam. Levine finished with four strikeouts, and the only two fly-ball outs came in the seventh inning.
“He did a great job keeping the ball down in the zone and got a lot of ground balls,” Rancho coach Tom Pletsch said. “That was the key to the victory. He may not be their best pitcher record-wise, but he’s got very good stuff.”
Rams senior Justin Neubauer nearly matched Levine pitch for pitch, striking out eight and limiting the Gators to five hits.
“We knew we were going to get one good start out of Justin,” Pletsch said of the left-hander, who has battled a hip flexor injury this season. “It’s kind of a shame we didn’t do what we needed to do offensively.”
Neubauer got out of trouble in the second inning, but Green Valley put together a two-out rally in the third. Sophomore Brett Harrison doubled, and Shiroky followed by sending a 1-1 pitch to deep left for his fifth home run of the season and a 2-0 lead.
“I was just trying to get the run in from second base, and I got a home run out of it,” Shiroky said. “Off the bat I felt it. I knew it was gone.”
Neubauer needed 62 pitches to get through the first three innings and threw 32 pitches in the fifth inning alone as Green Valley tacked on an insurance run. Harrison and Shiroky walked with one out before pinch hitter Chad Whiteaker lined a two-out single to right for a 3-0 lead.
The Rams broke up Levine’s shutout bid in the top of the sixth as sophomore Brandon Pletsch singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
“He did a great job of getting the defense involved, for sure,” Gators coach Nick Garritano said of Levine. “I loved the kid’s toughness and grit today. If you ask him, he didn’t have his best stuff, but that’s the sign of a good pitcher. He found a way to compete.”
Coronado 3, Eldorado 2 — At Green Valley, senior Justen Souza-Grenier singled in the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Cougars (13-15) eliminated the Sundevils (15-14).
Sophomore Taylor Giordano allowed five hits and no earned runs while striking out 12 for the Cougars. He also went 2-for-3, including a double down the left-field line in the sixth that tied the game at 2-2.
Coronado committed two of its four errors in the first inning, leading to both Eldorado runs.
Cody Giordano finished 2-for-3, including a run-scoring triple in the third inning for Coronado. Souza-Grenier and R.J. Cash were also 2-for-3.
Eldorado threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning, putting runners on first and third with two outs. But Taylor Giordano struck out Corey Keplinger on a nasty breaking ball to end the game.
Foothill 7, Silverado 6 — At Las Vegas, the Falcons (18-14) scored four runs in the fifth inning and held on to beat the Skyhawks (18-15).
Drew Robinson belted a two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning to give Silverado a 3-1 lead, but Jordan Stewart answered with a two-run homer of his own in the bottom half to tie the game at 3.
Silverado scored three runs in the seventh but was unable to complete the comeback.
Jordan Mathis, Kyle Moyes and Gabby Soto had two hits each for Foothill.
Pierce Belaustegui was 3-for-4 with two RBIs to lead Silverado. Tanner Dushane went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Silverado plays host Las Vegas in an elimination game at 1 p.m. today. Foothill will play the winner of that game at 4 p.m.
Las Vegas 6, Valley 5 — At Las Vegas, Brig Jensen singled home Dillon Dove with one out in the bottom of the eighth to give the Wildcats (24-10) the win.
Valley had tied the game in the top of the seventh on a two-out RBI single by Dayan Oses.
Bryce Harper went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs to lead the Wildcats. Wes Grass added three hits, including a triple.
Eric Herring went 3-for-4 for Valley, which finished 13-15.