Murrieta Mesa baseball team defeats Monrovia to reach Division 4 semifinals – press enterprise
MURRIETA – The numbers were intimidating. Monrovia had shut out seven of its previous eight opponents, including both playoff games.
But Jhayden Raineri’s logic was simple, and she won: “With our team, I really feel like there is no shutout.
There certainly wasn’t one on Friday, as Murrieta Mesa unleashed plenty of offense against Monrovia ace Coleman Mitchell, scoring a 6-2 win in the Division 4 quarterfinal. The Rams (26 -6) will play at Rancho Cucamonga in the semi-finals on Tuesday.
Mitchell’s numbers were impressive: 9-0 with an earned runs average of 0.37 and an opponents batting average of 0.156.
The Rams, however, have hit Mitchell for nine hits, at least one in each of the five innings he’s worked on. They never produced an additional base hit, but used base stroke and situation shots to maximize their production. This included a point on a squeeze shot from Raineri and two points on choosing a defensive player.
“I can say that before the game,” Raineri said. “When we whiffle ball before the game I know they’re going to get points.”
Mesa ended Monrovia’s 27-inning scoreless defensive streak with a few singles and a rush in the second inning. The Rams pushed the lead to 3-0 in the third period with a running goal on which Monrovia tried to cut three runners down and got none as two runs scored.
With runners in second and third place, Derek Hurtado beat the home throw on Makana Olaso field. Monrovia wide receiver Matt Delgado came empty trying to throw Olaso early and Mesa’s aggressive baserunning Carter Garate tackled the second inning as he beat the return throw.
“It’s just that Carter is reading about the game,” said Murrieta Mesa coach Mike Wolford. “Don’t give me any credit on that one.”
Mitchell might have the numbers, but Raineri was the top pitcher on Friday.
He held the Wildcats (21-4) without a hitting in four innings, before Nathan Thompson hit a wall double on the fly to lead the fifth. The Wildcats loaded up the goals with an out in the inning, but a big inning came up short on wild and scary play.
Pinch hitter Dominic Teneriello hit the ground on second baseman Aidan Salcedo. A routine double play became decidedly unusual when pinch runner Jack Zinn failed to bend or duck and took the shortstop Garate’s throw to the face at close range. A run scored, but Raineri cautiously threw Sebastian Sanchez over home to end the set.
The Rams opened the game in the fifth, turning four straight singles and Raineri’s squeeze into three points and a five-point lead.
Raineri finished all four batters, striking out six, walking three and hitting a batter.
“He’s been a big No. 1 for us,” Wolford said. “It’s his mentality. He trusts his business. He has four throws he throws for strikes.
“We are looking at what works in the bullpen but we will not give up any ground. If he’s struggling with anything, we won’t run away from him. We will try to understand the mechanics.