Sylmar homers twice in a 14-0 shutout win over Van Nuys to remain unbeaten in league play


Having won six of their last seven games, the Sylmar Spartans were flying high as they looked forward to a battle of the unbeatens in the Valley Mission League against the Van Nuys Wolves on Thursday, April 4. After a rough 1-4 start to their season, the Wolves rebounded with two consecutive league wins against Reseda only surrendering two runs in each contest. They hosted their league rivals seeking a statement win against a Spartan team ranked 5th in the L.A. City Section Division I. Sylmar overwhelmed the Wolves with an offensive surge in the third inning, pouring in seven runs en route to a 14-0 shutout victory.

Senior Matthew Benzor took the mound for the Spartans against Van Nuys junior Joaquin Boche in the afternoon’s pitching matchup. Sylmar took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning while their starting pitcher held the Wolves scoreless, only giving up a single hit in the process. Sylmar junior infielder Omar Barrientos advanced to first on a bunt in the top of the 2nd inning before senior Emilio Ochoa put an additional runner on second base after an error from the Wolves on a throw to first base.

On the next at-bat, senior infielder Victor Carrera knocked in a run for the Spartans with a single to bring home Barrientos. After Carrera stole 2nd base, Ochoa was brought home with a sacrifice fly from junior catcher Mike Andrade to increase the Sylmar lead to 3-0. Benzor added his first two of his six strikeouts in the bottom of the second inning shutting down the Wolves at the plate.

The Spartans blew the game wide open in the top of the third inning after sophomore infielder Alex Martinez advanced to second base on a failed pick off attempt at first following a single. Boche recovered and subsequently retired the next two batters. With one more out to go, Martinez came around to score following a single from Barrientos. This led to an unfortunate snowball effect against the Wolves with Carrera following up an Ochoa walk with a double to bring two runners home. After a walk from Andrade, the Spartans stayed red hot at the plate as senior Anthony Castaneda knocked in Carrera with a double to extend the lead to 7-0.

The third inning surge from Sylmar culminated in a back-breaking three-run home run from senior Hector Martinez to make it an insurmountable 10-0 lead in emphatic fashion. Benzor struck out two additional batters in the bottom of the third inning before the Wolves made a pitching change in the fourth inning with senior captain Edward Islas taking the mound. He surrendered two walks before Sylmar added two additional runs with a double and a sacrifice groundout to make the score 12-0.

Benzor’s impressive afternoon came to a close after striking out his last two batters in the fourth inning. Junior Victor Espinoza knocked the second home run of the afternoon over the fence in the top of the fifth inning. Sylmar added one final run to bring the score to 14-0 before senior pitcher Deangelo Franco took the mound in the bottom of the inning to secure the victory for the Spartans before the game was called off by the Mercy Rule.

Despite the temptation to chase the big swing in the smaller venue at Don Drysdale Field, Sylmar Head Coach Ray Rivera wanted to emphasize line drive hits to create opportunities for the homers that followed. He states his method of emphasis through an incentive with his players, “For every quality at-bat. For every line drive they hit, they get a McDonald’s cheeseburger.” The Spartans continued to satisfy their stomachs and their hunger for victories after defeating Van Nuys 13-0 in a rematch on their home field on Saturday. Both teams look forward to a home-and-home on Monday and Thursday against league opponents, with Sylmar facing Kennedy and Van Nuys taking on Canoga Park. 

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