On a picturesque evening at The Rock, the Grizzlies demonstrated why they were the number one seed going into districts. Starting pitcher Ethan Christianson mowed through the Capital line-up in the top of the first inning, striking out two batters while giving up one single on the way to a scoreless start. Center fielder Ryan Hansen wasted no time getting things going offensively by leading off with a single, then stealing second and third. A walk by left fielder Nick Romano and a steal of second by Romano put runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Catcher Kaden Hollow hit a 2-run single to draw first blood, but Rocky wasn’t finished yet. Payton Price took over for Hollow as a courtesy runner, and moved to third on a double by first baseman Nolan Walker. A balk brought Price in and put Walker on third with one out. A grounder scored Walker and the score was 4-0 after the dust settled of the first inning.
Another scoreless inning by Christianson and crew, which included another 2 strike-outs, brought Rocky back to the plate but they went down 1-2-3 as the score remained 4-0 after 2 complete innings. A 1-2-3 inning for Capital at the plate and the Grizzlies went right back to work. A walk to Romano led off the inning, and Kaden Hollow singled and advanced to second on the throw. With no outs, Price came in to run for Hollow, and a grounder scored Romano. Another grounder moved Price to third before he scored on a single by shortstop Ty Hollow and the Grizzlies took a comfortable 6-0 lead into the top of the 4th.
Things got a little dicey for the Grizzlies as a couple of walks and an error put runners on 1st and 2nd with one out before a pick-off at third by Hollow the catcher provided the second out of the inning. Another walk and again runners were on 1st and 2nd, but another strike-out by Christianson would silence the bats for another inning and keep the Eagles off the scoreboard. Despite a 2-out walk by Hansen, Rocky was held scoreless as we headed into the top of the 5th still nursing a 6-0 lead. A couple of walks, another picked-off runner, and a couple of strike-outs maintained the scoreless streak for Christianson. Kaden Hollow stayed on fire with a lead-off single, before giving way to Price as his courtesy runner. A single by designated hitter Kase Ogata put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs, and both runners were able to move up a base due to a Capital error. Walker energized the home crowd with a 3-run dinger over the right field fence, and the Grizzlies got tantalizing close to ending the game on the 10-run mercy rule, but the inning ended with Rocky leading 9-0.
Things got interesting in the top of the 6th, when Capital scored a run and loaded the bases with 1 out. Kenny Bradley relieved Christianson on the mound, where it only took Bradley 3 pitches to coolly serve-up a ground ball to Danny Burns at third who stepped on his base and gunned the ball to Walker at first for the inning-ending double play. A 1-2-3 inning for Rocky at the plate brought the Eagles their last chance at tying the game in the top of the 7th, but Bradley retired them as quickly as they got to the plate and Rocky was able to take the first game in the best of three series with a final score of 9-1.
The Grizzlies were led at the plate by Kaden Hollow (3-3, 2 rbi’s), and Nolan Walker (2-3, double, home run, 3 rbi’s). On the mound, Ethan Christianson pitched 5-1/3 innings, allowing 1 earned run, 3 hits, 7 walks and striking out 9. Kenny Bradley pitched 1-2/3 scoreless innings.
The series continues tonight as Rocky travels to Capital for game 2 starting at 6.